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Conversation with Andre Dubus III

In the Fall 2014 issue of Willow Springs, Elizabeth Kemper French and Joseph Salvatore have a conversation (from March 2013) with Andre Dubus III, author of New York Times bestsellers House of Sand and Fog, The Garden of Last Days, and Townie. The interview is lengthy and worth every word.

It begins with conversation about the digital age, which Dubus detests. “I don’t like modern life,” he says, “with these gadgets.” And although his publisher made him get a Facebook page, he doesn’t plan to ever update it (though points out that there is nothing wrong with others doing so). “It’s a philosophical turning-away-from, and a temperamental turning-away-from,” he says. “The older I get, the more simplicity I want. I don’t think these things have helped us. I think they’ve made us little rats, made us pay attention to little, stupid shit.”

And because the writing process is different for everyone, Dubus must write by longhand, not putting on the computer until it is completed: “I need the physical intimacy of flesh, blood, bone, wood, paper. It helps me enter the character.” He goes on to explain the necessity for him to slow down when writing, as writing longhand forces you to do:

“There’s a great line from Goethe: ‘Do not hurry. Do not rest.’ Some people say, ‘I need the computer, because my ideas are so fast.’ I say, ‘Ideas? I don’t trust ideas. Ideas are just ideas.’ I trust the other stuff. I love the line from Flannery O’Connor, from Mystery and Manners: ‘There’s a certain grain of stupidity the writer of fiction can hardly do without, and that’s the quality of having to stare.’ …”

It’s a quality interview, both entertaining and insightful. It’s worth every one of the almost 30 pages it takes up of the journal.

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