“I’m interested in many things but what I do most is writing of all sorts,” he said when we settled into his spacious white kitchen, “novels, poems, newspaper articles…writing for web sites.”
What has led you into this fascinating world of writing and artistic expression?
“When I was young I felt I was not very articulate but then in college I found some courses that really excited me and then after graduation I took a photography course and I think that was the first time I did something that someone else could appreciate. And at the same time I began to write poems for myself and I think both were ways to try to get outside myself, find out who I was…”
How do you see the situation of literature at this moment in the Unites States?
I agree with Robert Alter who says that literature in the U.S. has suffered due to the fact the King James version of Bible is no longer a reference for literary work. It gave people an appreciation for style, something that is disappearing because nobody reads the original King James version but abbreviated and smoothed over versions. So people have become insensitive to style, to nuances of meaning. The way you say something gives you a sense of the whole galaxy of expressive possibilities.
Is there something like a vanguard in U.S. literature?
Actually, I find it diminishing. I try to keep up on newly published books. Some writers are the exception because they are trying to stretch style beyond what it has been. It is a little like what happens in other arts, such as painting. What do you do after expressionism? You can’t go back to representational painting, although some people try to do that. You can’t get more abstract either, so what do you do? In writing, well, what do you do after James Joyce and other innovators what can I do? There’s another problem in this country because the small publishing houses have given way to big corporations, like Random House. They are not interested in style; they are interested in money. They can’t tell style from a…bush.
What about content? We have talked about style but what are the concerns of writers today?
That’s one area where you are not going to lose substance. There are amazing things to write about. There are personal stories and stories about all the trials and tribulations of society. My novel “Noah’s Children” is about a journalist who after writing about local issues becomes concerned about the global warm up.
Not to change the subject but does the scandal about spying bear an inhibiting influence on writers?
No, not at all. This is not a police state and maybe you might say that things have gotten out of hand, gone too far, but at the same time we have these people like the libertarians and the right wingers who want to take us back to the 19th century but, well, there are lots of forces at work in this country. I don’t think spying does not diminish our freedom…
You have written another book but haven yet found a publisher…
It’s about a couple that have had a bad marriage. So they go to Greece to sort of resurrect their marriage. They go to a party outside Athens and there the wife meets a British fellow who says to her, come with me. She says she can’t because she has to pick up the kids and the man keeps insisting and she’s a historian so she thinks it would be wonderful to go on a cruise in the Aegean Sea. So she goes while her husband is in Athens. He has only a few days before he has to fly back. So he goes up to Delphi and bumps into someone a woman who in turn hooks him up with a woman in Athens, who is a therapist. He goes to her and has this conversation and with her he discovers that talking with her he really has give and take. Without going into details, the story is about people who go in different directions.
How do you go about writing? Do you have a routine, a special approach…?
It varies a bit from book to book but basically I have a rough outline, I know where I have to go. But I don’t keep to an outline. Writing comes pretty easy to me. I might write something which I don’t like and I rip it up. I try to just allow things to happen. Of course writers have all sorts of memories, associations which come together. It isn’t what we are thinking about consciously but it’s there and appears.
Do you have a routine, a habit, do you write at 3 O’clock in the morning…?
I try to write every morning. The first thing I do after breakfast is to write.
Huck Fairman was born in New York City and graduated from Middlebury College. He spent two years working for Volunteers in Service to America. In addition to writing he has filmed documentaries, including one for the U.N. on “Planned Parenthood. He has does done dramatic productions, script writing, custom copywriting and has also prepared programs for public TV.