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.