George Saunders: The Writer’s Language

Interview excerpted from the LA Review of Books:

To make any kind of sense, or get any momentum going, a writer has to have a language that can be sort of overfilled and made joyous. And, weirdly, that may have little to do with his idea of what literature is or his intention or any of that — it just turns out that your prime generative language is about this or that. So — Turgenev could really get it going on when writing about Russian forests and villages; Vonnegut could make magic out of vaguely sci-fi scenarios rendered in short, tight sentences; Flannery O’Connor came alive around the topic of hubris. I am kind of in love with contemporary American landscape — the muffler store next to the pioneer graveyard and so on — and I do tend to place stories there — but by default rather than design. Or, more precisely: I am following or sniffing after some kind of lively or edgy language and then suddenly find that a setting is being generated.

Read full here.


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