Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Go easy on the cuticles

The folks at have posted a short email exchange with Anne Tyler. This is a rarity, given the author's well-known aversion to publicity and pontification. ("Any time I talk in public about writing," she notes,"I end up not able to do any writing. It's as if some capricious Writing Elf goes into a little sulk whenever I expose him.") Happily she consented to share a few thoughts about her upcoming novel, Digging to America, in which two Baltimore couples adopt Korean babies. Praising one key scene--in which the babies and adoptive mothers first arrive in the country--Margo Rabb asks Tyler whether the details are predominantly invented or recalled. Her answer:
Like almost everyone, I have been a fascinated bystander at more than a few of those arrival scenes. But the specific details of the arrival scene in my book are manufactured, and it is always imagination I rely upon rather than my own memory--which is, I've found, disconcertingly focused, in a not very helpful way. (I might have only the vaguest, blurriest recollection of someone, but his cushioned-looking, bitten-down fingernails will stay with me forever.)

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