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The Edge at 15: Favorite literary interviews

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The Edge at 15: Favorite literary interviews (AP file photo)

We love books here at The Maine Edge. We love reading them and reviewing them, of course, but we especially love speaking to the people who write them.

Over the years, we’ve had the opportunity to speak to some truly incredible authors, speaking to them about whatever their latest book might be, sure, but also about their bodies of work, their processes and whatever else might tickle their (or our) fancies.

Here’s a look back at some of the highlights.

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Richard Russo

I have this one first because it was my first big author get. Back in 2009, Russo’s “That Old Cape Magic” was released and he was gracious enough to speak to me about it.

It was a wild conversation – one for which I was very nervous. I had been working at the Edge for a little over a year at that point, but this was a big leap for me. A Pulitzer Prize winner? Talking to me? Such a trip.

We talked about the book and its themes, sure, but we also got into the weeds in a delightful way. Seagull poop as good luck? Elaborate theories about wedding seating with NCAA-style seedings? You better believe it.

No doubt the Maine connection helped me get my foot in the door. It’s funny to think about, since it was my first big authorial interview, but I still think it is one of my best.

Chuck Palahniuk

Man, was I excited for this one.

I had been a fan of Chuck Palahniuk’s work for years, so I figured when his book “Tell All” came out in 2010, I’d take a swing and see if he’d be willing to talk. Turns out that he was and I got a phenomenal interview out of it.

It was the sort of wide-ranging conversation that you would hope to have with someone like Palahniuk. “Tell All” was a fascinating and grotesque plunge into the world of celebrity – an ongoing interest of the author – so we spent a lot of time talking about the implications of these sorts of stories and who ultimately has the right to share them.

Plus, he was just cool as hell and even gave me a bit of a scoop about a movie option, though the film in question never came to fruition. Smart and sharp and super dry, he proved to be exactly the interview subject – and person – that I hoped he would be.

Chuck Klosterman

I firmly believe that no 21st century writer has been as good at analyzing popular culture as Chuck Klosterman. He’s the top of the heap.

So when his book “I Wear the Black Hat” – an analysis of the nature of villainy within the confines of culture – hit back in 2013, I reached out to see if he’d care to chat about the book. And we did, but as anyone familiar with Klosterman knows, it turned into something much more than that.

Using the book as a jumping-off point, we delved into all manner of subject matter. We talked about politics and football and celebrity and discussed what it is that truly makes a villain. I also got to ask him about my favorite chapter in the book, wherein he related the story of his own archenemy, former major league pitcher Rick Helling.

(Intrigued? You should be. Go read the book.)

Christopher Moore

First things first – if you haven’t read Christopher Moore, you definitely should.

I spoke to Moore a few years back in advance of the release of his book “Fool,” a comedic reimagining of Shakespeare’s “King Lear” told through the eyes of the Fool – unnamed in the play, but here, he’s called Pocket. It’s a smart and funny and gleefully profane read – you know, a Christopher Moore book.

We spoke about the book, which led us in all kinds of interesting directions. He was really interested in the surprising flexibility of Shakespeare and the possibilities it presented (for the record, Pocket’s adventures would continue in subsequent adaptation). He also shared his process and his research methods, as well as telling me a little bit about my personal favorite book of his, a little something called “Lamb.”

One of the joys of a conversation like this comes from the realization that the person you’re talking to is just as funny and empathetic and smart as they appear in their writing. Speaking to him was a genuine pleasure.

John Hodgman

I am a love of all things John Hodgman.

This conversation came about in tandem with the release of his wonderful book “Vacationland” back in 2017, but when the time came, we talked about a lot more than just the specifics of the book. Indeed, we spun off into a variety of tangents, each of them compounding and leading in unexpected directions.

It’s worth noting that this may be the interview in which I laughed the hardest over the course of my entire Maine Edge tenure. Hodgman’s dry self-deprecation is hilarious enough, but his willingness to engage me with humorous attacks on my character pushed it over the top. Ever had a famous internet judge attack your Maine bona fides because you confessed to a dislike of Moxie? Because I have.

Although let’s be real – the highlight was probably the few minutes we spent talking about the obscure Canadian comic book team Alpha Flight, which is also a thing that actually happened.

Chris Bohjalian

Last but not least, we have Chris Bohjalian. I won’t go too in-depth here, as my interview with Mr. Bohjalian happened just this year and was prominently featured in last week’s Year in Review.

His new book “Hour of the Witch” was exceptional and he was incredibly thoughtful and thorough in answering my questions. Just a tremendous writer, one equally adept at producing quality and quantity – precise and prolific. A highlight not just of this year, but of my entire tenure.

Last modified on Wednesday, 29 December 2021 13:17

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