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Michael Cunningham: I am a dreamer!

2012.01.13 Няма коментари
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I have huge appetites, for life and love and all the blessings the world can bestow-says the author of “The Hours”

Michael Cunningham is the author of the novels A Home at the End of the World, Flesh and Blood, The Hours (winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award & Pulitzer Prize), Specimen Days and By Nightfall. He lives in New York.

– Mr. Cunningham, what did inspire you to write the novel “By Nightfall”?
I wanted to write a novel about a man searching for something beautiful and true and lasting, in a world notoriously short on the beautiful, true, and lasting.
– Where is the bridge between “A home at the end of the world” and “By Nightfall”?
– It’s a little hard to say, beyond the fact that they’re both books I wrote.  I suppose you could say that they’re both concerned with people who have perfectly adequate lives but want more fulfilling, inspired lives.  I mean, who doesn’t?
– What brings you in the process of writing- your own interest or the thoughts about what would/ would not be appropriate for readers?
– Both, really.  My first concern in writing a novel is that it concerns characters and subjects that are compelling to me, but I’m also aware, as I write, of the fact that those characters and subjects have to interest readers as well.  I respect my readers.  And a novel, any novel, is a complicated, highly emotional exchange between a writer and his readers.  I never trust writers who say they write only for themselves.  It seems a little like saying, I bake big beautiful cakes and stay home and eat them by myself.  Books, like cakes, are meant to be given to others.
– What makes you scared in writing or nervous?  I am asking because I think that there is an opportunity for a famous writer to decide that he/ she has the power to know everything.
– It has never occurred to me that I have the power to know everything.  I’m always nervous about what I write – is it deep enough, powerful enough?  Do the emotions ring true?  Is it funny and tragic, in roughly equal measures?  I don’t think a writer should ever get too confident.  If you start to feel like an “expert,” you’re well on your way toward being a hack.  A writer, if he’s any good, should always be trying to do at least a little bit more with a book than he thinks he’s able to.
– My feeling for you is that you know how to look at yourself.  My opinion is that it is not possible to go so deep in all these characters without going so deep in you. Don’t you think?
– Eudora Welty, a Southern American writer I admire enormously, once said that you can’t write about an emotion you haven’t felt.  I agree with her.
– What are the extremes in yourself and do you show them in writing?
– I’m a dreamer.  I have huge appetites, for life and love and all the blessings the world can bestow.  And a lot of my characters do, too.
– I found something common in your heroes- the desire to define- the self, boundaries, sexuality, wishes, good and bad…and the great opportunity to integrate different parts of the self. What is your opinion about that?
You’re absolutely right.  The people who interest me most are people who yearn for a more integrated life, a fuller life, a better life.  Some of them get it, and some of them don’t.  As in real life.
It is so psychological the way you presented the incestuous relationship between Susan and Constantine Stassos; Oedipus relationship between Mary and Billy; Zoe which is neglected. What is the message of these heroes to the future generations?
– I don’t know if the incestuous tendencies in Flesh and Blood are meant as a message to future generations.  None of my books are intended to have “messages,” exactly.  I simply try to write about the fullest possible range of human emotions and experiences.  That is, to me, one of the primary purposes of fiction – to set down, as fully as possible, what it’s like to be a human being.
If you have a chance to live for a day like one of your heroes… whom of them would you prefer to be?
– I’d like to be the lizard woman from another planet in Specimen Days.
– What do you want to tell to your Bulgarian readers?
Michael Cunningham: Really the same thing I want to tell readers anywhere – that I hope my books are moving and true for them.
I would like to thank you for these inspirational books that made my days full of deep sense and creativity.


Kristina Nenova,

 “Bulgaria Sega”

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