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WERE YOU CONCERNED THAT THE LENGTH OF THE NOVEL WOULD INTIMIDATE READERS?
Well, it took us two years of lugging the manuscript around in two giant gym bags from publisher to publisher until finally McSweeney's said yes. And we were lucky because this is a publisher who is trying to create an audience for the different kinds of books they are putting out. And once we took it to them and they read it and got used to it, the thinking was, "Let's make this novel as good as it can be." Actually my original manuscript was about 35 pages shorter than the finished book. There was a period of time when we were actually adding chapters.

WOULDA MOMENT IN THE SUN MAKE A GOOD MINISERIES?
I think it would make a great 50- to 100-part miniseries. [Laughs.]

IN ADDITION TO THIS NOVEL, YOU ALSO HAVE A FILM COMING OUT IN AUGUST,AMIGO, THAT TAKES PLACE DURING THE SAME TIME PERIOD.WHAT'S THE MAJOR DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WRITING A NOVEL AND WRITING FOR THE SCREEN?
When you're writing for the screen you're writing a blueprint, so you're not going to put all the details in. Your production designer, your costumer, your director of photography, your actors are going to supply so many of those details. You may be in control of them, you may pick and choose, but they're going to bring those things. In a novel, everything I want people to know about, I've got to write it.

YOU SEEM TO BE IN GREAT SHAPE FOR SOMEBODY WHO HAS JUST FINISHED CROSSING THE COUNTRY BY CAR TWICE.
Yeah, well, I exercise quite a bit. I was out for a run this morning. And when I'm home [Stanfordville, in upstate New York] I sometimes swim a mile across the Hudson River. It's very safe if you cross at a certain time; in fact there's a time when it becomes about as calm as a giant lake. And sometimes when I get across I run into Pete Seeger, playing his banjo as best he can.

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