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When I first began working on [The Keep], I was writing it pretty much in the voice of Look at Me, which is sort of a knowing, ironic, urban, sophisticated voice, and I found that it was meshing very badly with this gothic other-worldliness. I felt like I was beating my head against that. I was reduced to writing five lousy pages a day. I always write by hand, and I had titled the book A Short Bad Novel because I was so discouraged."
"I do think there are far more readers up for the unexpected than we tend to imagine, and that some few of them might be willing to follow along with a narrator who can't quite get the who, what, where, when and how to function as much more than a jumble and who, on top of it, has more than one version of events to propose."
For those who like to choose books based on whether they look good in conjunction with one's new, olive-green, chunky Clark Kent glasses, or how well they look next to a single orchid on the windowsill, or how effectively they might compel that foxy person at the coffee shop who angrily slams out their macchiato every morning to one day engage in coitus with them -- well, it's been a rough year.
"More recently my publishers said, “We want you to do a book that is for a new generation who likes less recipes, more photographs.” I decided this time instead of putting all the recipes together, we’d divide the book into the three cuisines that I chose. I chose [Lebanon, Morocco, and Turkey] because they are the very best. I must say that I also suggested Syria and Iran. They said, “No, no, no. We can’t have them.” Maybe my next book will be The Cooking of the Axis of Evil."
"The danger -- maybe that's too strong a word -- in explaining a writer's work through his or her outer life is only that you may miss the element of imagination. The people I've chosen to write about had powerful imaginative inner lives that were fueled by lots and lots of reading. It's just one way of approaching biography, of course, but I think it can work, especially if you combine it with details from the outer life."