06 August 2014

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paris review interview with elizabeth spencer is worth your time.

for many reasons, among them this:

INTERVIEWER
I’ve wondered how that novel was received in the South, particularly in your home region. Is that why you ran off to Italy?
SPENCER
Oh, I’m sure a lot of people in my hometown and elsewhere objected. Some of the objections I heard about: I hadn’t been “fair to the South,” and so forth. But, no, nobody wanted to run me out of Mississippi. At least, nobody I know of wanted to.

and this:

SPENCER
Oh, Lord. Okay—while family is interesting for the range of character it offers a writer, and for the stability it may, at best, offer to the individual, it is in many, many cases stifling and destructive. There is always bound to be, at the least,suppressed conflict. The price is high. Someone much wiser than I once told me that Southern families were cannibals. He was an enthusiastic Southerner himself, so I felt even more the weight of that judgment. The family assigns unfair roles, and never forgives the one who does not fulfill them. Of course, a sense of freedom is a large part of my own nature. I can’t be straitjacketed. Maybe they ask no more than all traditional societies do, one way or another.

and this: 
INTERVIEWER
Why do you write the way you do?
SPENCER
When I started writing I fell into a certain way of expression that was natural to me and that I liked to put down and read over. I used to sit up in a tree and write. Really. Just because you’ve nothing on your feet doesn’t mean you’ve nothing in your head! I would also write stories in study hall to pass the time after I raced through my homework. Or sit up in bed on winter nights, scribbling into tablets held on my knees. Then I was getting the feeling I’ve always kept as the best part of it, that I was not so much writing as letting something come through me.

and this: 
SPENCER
Listen, if you write a novel in Mississippi, North Mississippi at that, you are bound to be compared to Faulkner. If you write about Americans abroad in some sort of confrontation with Europeans, then you are bound to be compared to James. 

and this: 
SPENCER
Women often dramatize the men in their lives, they assign them roles. Maybe I’ve done that too, once in a while. When women friends confide in me, I often notice this theme. When I wrote the story, I was going through a long phase of finding myth themes for stories centering on women. 

and, lastly, this:
INTERVIEWER
Do you mind the term “woman writer”?

SPENCER
Would you mind the term “man writer”? “Woman writer” is just next door to “lady writer.”


(full thing here)

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