YOU’VEALWAYS WRITTEN VERY DETAILED, FULL SENTENCES. IS THAT SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS, OR DO YOU KEEP ADDING, REWRITE AFTER REWRITE?
Sometimes the sentences come out that way, and that is a wondrous thing. Most of the time, what you read is the product of a lot of rewriting. I write and rewrite and rewrite again — I look at the sentence as a fundamental unit not just of my narrative but also of the pleasure I take in writing. I take a lot of care and time in my sentences, and then I take a lot of care and time of my paragraphs as elemental units. I take time and care with that. I build outward from the sentence — the topmost step would be the overall structure of the book itself.
THIS BOOK SEEMS PARTICULARLY DENSELY WRITTEN.
In Yiddish Policeman’s Union, I worked to hone and trim and shorten my sentences and strip them down a little bit from my accustomed more natural sentence, because I was trying to write in this hardboiled detective tradition. It doesn’t have to be utterly plain: Raymond Chandler wasn’t a plain writer, but shorter, pithier sentences were more the style. Maybe partly as a result of that book, with this one I really let myself go. Partly that’s my natural gait. And also, I was working with this background of music — of jazz — so there was a sinuousness and a flow. I also listened to so much hip-hop when I was working on this book, and I’ve always been drawn to the MCs with flow — Rakim and Big Daddy Kane and the guys in Organized Konfusion. That was an inspiration to me, so I think with a lot of these sentences I was experiencing that sense of flow.
MICHAEL CHABON :: Book signing, Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St, Brookline :: October 3 @ 7 pm [6 pm Coolidge Corner Theatre reading sold out] :: brooklinebooksmith.com
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