Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Paris Review - The Art of Fiction


I think so, yes, because as I said I was more hard-hearted then. The tenderness I feel now for my mother, I didn’t feel for a long time. I don’t know how I would feel if one of my daughters wrote about me. They’re about at the age now where they should be coming out with a first novel that is all about childhood. It must be a dreadful experience to go through, becoming a character in your kid’s novel. People write carelessly wounding things in reviews like, oh, that my father was a seedy fox farmer, and things like this, reflecting on the poverty. A feminist writer interpreted “My Father,” in Lives of Girls and Women, as straight autobiographical representation. She made me into someone who came out of this miserable background, because I had a “feckless father.” This was an academic at a Canadian university, and I was so mad, I tried to find out how to sue her. I was furious. I didn’t know what to do because I thought, It doesn’t matter for me, I’ve had all this success, but all my father had was that he was my father. He’s dead now. Is he going to be known as a feckless father because of what I did to him? Then I realized she represented a younger generation of people who had grown up on a totally different economic planet. They live in a welfare state to a certain extent—Medicare. They’re not aware of the devastation something like illness could cause to a family. They’ve never gone through any kind of real financial trouble. They look at a family that’s poor and they think this is some kind of choice. Not wanting to better yourself is fecklessness, it’s stupidity or something. I grew up in a house that had no indoor toilet, and this to this generation is so appalling, truly squalid. Actually it wasn’t squalid. It was fascinating.


Matthew Thorburn said...

Aren't these interviews great? I am sensing a major distraction for me here!

Suzanne said...

I love them!