Marilynne Robinson is one of few writers I’d love (well, more accurately, consent) to take a class with:
I try to make writers actually see what they have written, where the strength is. Usually in fiction there’s something that leaps out—an image or a moment that is strong enough to center the story. If they can see it, they can exploit it, enhance it, and build a fiction that is subtle and new. I don’t try to teach technique, because frankly most technical problems go away when a writer realizes where the life of a story lies. I don’t see any reason in fine-tuning something that’s essentially not going anywhere anyway. What they have to do first is interact in a serious way with what they’re putting on a page. When people are fully engaged with what they’re writing, a striking change occurs, a discipline of language and imagination.
Read the whole interview. It’s worth every bit of your time.
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4 thoughts on “Marilynne Robinson interviewed in The Paris Review”
Robinson’s engagement with religion is deeply thoughtful and thought-provoking, no matter what your beliefs. I agree with David Foster Wallace that no one is an atheist; we only choose which gods – for many, money or power or progress – we bow done to.
Thanks for the link to the interview. Robinson’s involvement with theology has been a trouble for me in the past, only being acquainted with her fiction. But this makes many things clear.
I still love ‘Housekeeping’ best. All that water and wonder and beauty and inadequacy.
As you are clearly aware, I have no stature to worry about.
How very big of you to condescend to admit that you might condescend to allow Marilynne Robinson to presume to offer you instruction, whose content, no doubt, you’ll feel entirely at liberty to regard or neglect as your supreme judgment dictates. A writer of your stature must certainly feel the responsibility of occasionally stooping to allow your very very few peers to speak in your presence.
Bless you, your reverence.