In a sign that my new book is now truly taking up the prime real estate in my head, psyche, and study, today I finally took down the stuff that accumulated up on the wall as I wrote The Half Brother: quotations, images, desperate notes to myself. They’re all reminders of the path this novel took, all well-worn life jackets that saved me over and over. Of course I’ll save them. But before they disappear into a file drawer, I thought I’d share a few. Continue reading
For mothers, fathers, caretakers. For anyone, really.
You must build a fence.
Make the space inside the fence as big as you can; but the more important thing is to have it be absolutely clear. It must be only pasture. It must be only free waving grasses and wildflowers and blankness. The space needs nothing from you. The metropolis of your life will be beyond the fence, built up to the very edge; but when you enter the pasture the city will disappear behind the fence, and you will hear only birds and the wind. Continue reading
I posted recently about Nancy Pearl‘s lovely mention of The Half Brother on her show on KUOW Public Radio. As she was speaking of my book and the question of coincidence, she said, “Where would Sophocles be without coincidence?” (My publicist: “She compared Holly to Sophocles! We’ll take it!”) I’ve already mentioned that I’d had the Oedipus cycle in mind while writing. But I often do, apparently. I had completely forgotten about this piece written when The Swimming Pool came out, about this very same topic…perhaps I will always be writing about secrets, fate, and “coincidence.” Here it is, in full. Continue reading
The renowned librarian and book lover Nancy Pearl recently talked about The Half Brother on Seattle NPR station KUOW. She did something unusual: raved (RAVED) about the book, but also asked readers to weigh on on their opinions of the plot. She wonders, how much coincidence is too much? And references Sophocles and his Oedipus cycle–which, not coincidentally, I was thinking of, and read several times, while writing The Half Brother. Continue reading
(Thank you to Necessary Fiction for hosting me for their “Research Notes” feature. I thought my entire piece would be variations on “I don’t do research,” but it didn’t quite end up that way.)
Research. This is one of those topics where I don’t entirely trust myself. There are novelists out there who do copious amounts of research, for years. I am not one of them. However, whenever I don’t want to do something, I usually assume that means that I should. I suppose this is because I was raised a southern Presbyterian. Continue reading
I had the pleasure of talking with North Carolina personality D.G. Martin last week while I was in Chapel Hill. He’s a voracious reader (read my book in a day and a half after a Fedex snafu), former Green Beret and a Democratic politician–an actual renaissance man. He asked great questions about both The Half Brother and The Swimming Pool, and I hope he asks me back soon, even though I went to school at the wrong end of Tobacco Road. Here’s the link.
Many thanks to Deborah Kalb for having me on her fine blog. Read our interview here.
Q: One of the book’s themes is the idea of a Southerner moving to New England, something you have done yourself. What are some of the major differences between the two parts of the country, and how do they affect your character Charlie?
A: There’s a deep guilt about leaving home, for some people, and yet it’s necessary. Whether it’s figurative or literal, it’s part of what Jung called individuation. So that tension is interesting.
And because Charlie’s a southerner, he’s a stranger in a strange land, which is where you need your protagonist to be. Although Charlie probably would feel that way wherever he lived.
Charlie moves north rather blindly—as I did. I came here when I was 22, because my old college roommate talked me into it, and if you had told me then I’d be here a quarter-century later I would have said you were nuts. But, of course, life is a mystery.
All those years ago, I think I was drawn to Boston at least in part because it’s a literary place. People are not afraid to be intellectually serious here.
But the main thing I miss about the south is that people there don’t take themselves seriously. Bostonians accomplish a lot, but they’re wound very, very tight. Southerners are good at seeing the absurd. They expect the absurd.
“Many novels are set at schools, but I’ve read few that capture the essence of what goes in on the classroom as well as The Half Brother.”
Read more here.
The lovely Caroline Leavitt was kind enough to have me on her blog recently. Caroline is amazing–a generous cheerleader for countless writers, a reviewer and blogger, and oh also she has written ten novels and they are bestsellers. I don’t know how she does it.
“Holly LeCraw talks about her devastating new novel, The Half Brother, teachers who mattered, what’s obsessing her now and more.”
Our conversation can be found here.