Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Reprint: Rusty Talk with Elisabeth Harvor

The entire interview can be found here: http://www.therustytoque.com/3/post/2012/02/elisabeth-harvor-novelist-short-fiction-writer-poet.html

KD: How would you describe your approach to revision?
EH: I value it. It's a purge and a freedom and a benevolent addiction. It’s also a second chance. Or a whole series of second chances, and as time goes by, I'm more and more grateful for second chances. But my approach to these second chances? It's often a matter of delete, delete, delete, especially when revising poetry. But it's a question too: Have I made the best emotional use of the space on this page? And also: Have I gone deep enough here?

KD: Your work is very honest. Do you think emotional honesty in a story, poem, or novel is absolutely essential?
EH: I do, but this conviction doesn't appear to rule out the occasional enjoyment of fictional inventions, fabrications, and lies. As both a writer and a reader, though, I prefer those moments when the surreal enters the real and does it naturally, without show-offy artifice.

KD: What other writers inspire you? How do they inspire you?

EH: Woolf’s To the Lighthouse for its mesmerizing voice, for its profound understanding of childhood, and for the depth and complexity of its emotion; The Journals of Sylvia Plath for its joie de vivre and its brilliant fury; William Carlos Williams for "The Ivy Crown;" one of the great love poems of all time; Penelope Mortimer for her authentic evocation of depression and the fierce economy of The Pumpkin Eater; Saul Bellow for the deep anguish and comedy of Seize the Day; Bernard Malamud for the inspired comic originality of A New Life; Paulette Jiles for the stomach-dropping drama of "Night Flight to Attawapiskat;" Grace Paley for "A Conversation with my Father," a terrific story about writing a story; Marian Engel’s tender ode to a bear in Bear; Nadine McInnis’s fetching (if frustrated) mother in "Legacy," and almost every poem in Plath’s extraordinary Ariel. As well as the work of so many other writers.