Books aren’t all supposed to be our best friends. Sometimes they’re supposed to be that difficult friend who encourages us to do things that we don’t feel are rational or grown-up.
“I suppose the truth is I became a little self-conscious about people telling me how much they loved my sentences,” says James Salter in his interview with Jonathan Lee. “It’s flattering, but it seemed to me that this love of sentences was in some sense getting in the way of the book itself.”
“Marisa Silver’s third novel, Mary Coin, inspired by Dorothea Lange’s iconic Depression-era “Migrant Mother” photograph, depicts three contrasting yet connected lives: the photographer, Vera Dare; the photo’s subject, Mary Coin; and a professor in present-day California, Walker Dodge. The book manages to feel intimate and personal, even as it spans decades and takes on big subjects like history, motherhood and art.”
A photograph captures a moment of time, but then time itself moves past that moment into the future. When we look at a photograph, we are looking at time stilled, at a moment that has died.
TM: Do you find that people are more squeamish to ask you questions about the digestive tract than they were on your earlier book tours, when the topic was the afterlife or space?
MR: Oh no, no. Once you open the door for them, people want to know all kinds of things. … The other day I was doing an author lunch at Google; people had a lot of questions about rectal smuggling.
“I think digestion is another lurid, taboo subject — particularly from the navel down. But even what goes on in the mouth is an unthinkable, revolting thing that no one wants to think about. There was a sense that this was right up my stinky little alley.”
The whole Sylvia Plath life story has been approached in a reductionist way. I wanted to do something different. Because when I read her journals I see someone who’s so lively, so hungry for life, and really engaged in the world in a relatable way.
Recommended: Ellah Alfrey on selecting Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists.