It’s not often a writer has the utterly affirming pleasure of meeting an ideal reader. Even more rare is having that ideal reader interview you, and then do a discussion of your book on the radio with not one, but two more ideal readers. I had this great privilege a couple of weeks ago when The Half Brother was featured on Cyd Oppenheimer’s show Book Talk, on WNHH (New Haven).
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.
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.