The interview that I chose to read was with Jonathan Franzen. I selected this interview mostly because although I had not read any of his work I had actually heard of him before unlike most of the people. I thought the little snippet that was posted on the main page was interesting as well:
“When I was younger, the main struggle was to be a ‘good writer.’ Now I more or less take my writing abilities for granted, although this doesn’t mean I always write well.”
This appealed to me because I know that I am personally still struggling with this first aspect. I am still struggling with, worrying about, and hoping that I am a ‘good writer’ at this point in my life. I guess it was interesting (and maybe comforting) to see that at least for him this had lessened over time.
A couple of different themes and topics from his discussion stood out to me and these include most significantly the three themes listed below.
In the interview one of the things that he discusses is the aspect of ‘masks’ in relation to writing and life in general. He talks about how writers are so preoccupied with the idea of using their own life experiences and emotions in their writing but doing so in a concealed way. Most of his progress as a writer he believes is due to him progressing on to wearing different masks as an author. As a young writer he thought that he could only wear certain masks to deal with his experiences through writing but as he has progressed he has been able to don different masks and deal with these experiences in different ways.
Also prevalent in his interview is the idea of remediation. He discusses how he is still dealing with similar themes as some of his earlier work but is just doing it in different (and according to him better) ways than he did before. His progression as an author doesn’t mean that he has moved on from discussing the same things that interested him early on just that he approaches them in a different way.
Finally one more thing that interested me about his interview was his discussion of how growing up in a house where art wasn’t appreciated very much influenced his growth as a writer. His parents were not very supportive of his wish to go into the arts and pushed both him and his brother towards the sciences as opposed to the arts. I kind of connected to this as my parents have always been very outspoken about focusing on getting a degree in something which offers concrete job opportunities. To them this doesn’t include careers in the arts and I think if they hadn’t been as outspoken with me I may not be majoring in the same things as I am now.