2016 september 16 at powerhouse arena: last friday, i walked over to dumbo to hear alexandra kleeman (intimations, harper, 2016) and liz moore (the unseen world, norton, 2016) in conversation.
i'm a huge fan of kleeman; i absolutely loved both her books (her novel, published last year by harper, is you too can have a body like mine); and i love how atmospheric her writing is, the ways she captures mood and strangeness/weirdness but does so very thoughtfully, not haphazardly. it's easy to get lost in her writing, and i highly recommend both of her books.
- alexandra kleeman: the stories in this book started in different ways, but they all started from the grain*, i think.
- * (i think she said "grain." she may not have used that word specifically.)
- AK: [“you, disappearing”] actually started from a tweet that i tweeted where i just said, what if the world started disappearing piece by piece?
- AK: i think that it’s difficult for me to think about creating a whole plot and organizing it for story. i start with an idea — it helps me feel like i’m learning something instead of investigating a plot inadequately.
- liz moore: “choking victim” gave me so much anxiety because it’s basically every fear i’ve had since having a child.
- AK: because maybe you have longer to think about being a mother now than you used to in [that] you have a lot to worry about and think to be prepared for it. i definitely have no experience, and one thing i was interested in with that story was how i could create this situation where this character realistically makes this major mistake. [we’ve all been in situations where we make decisions that are bad decisions, but, at that moment, we think it makes sense.]
- AK: i began from that point [at the end], that plot point in that story and worked backwards to see how to funnel everything towards that.
- AK: to write a novel, you have to keep yourself in pretty much the same mental condition, i think. your novel kind of anchors you to time and place. these stories, i wrote over a period of six years, and i wrote them as an escape from the novel. the earlier stories — yeah, it’s changed stylistically. i’ve gotten very interested in making characters with problems that mirror mine more literally.
- LM: every time i write something, i feel like i’ve started from scratch — like, what do people say, and what do they look like? i’m interested in personification as a thing you can do to people but you can also do to non-people.
- LM: we both have lobsters in our books. we should have done something lobster-themed tonight.