Saturday, April 21, 2007

Dani Shapiro

Some time back, Barnes & Noble interviewed Dani Shapiro, author of a bestselling memoir and five acclaimed novels including Black & White, new this month from Knopf.

Part of the Q & A:

What was the book that most influenced your life or your career as a writer?

When I was in graduate school, I took a course in 19th Century literature that changed my life as a writer. I had a gifted professor who taught me to read very differently than I had before. Until then, I had read novels as a reader, with a somewhat academic bent. But in this course, the professor (whose name was Ilja Wachs, and to whom I eventually dedicated my second novel) taught us to read as writers. It was as if a light bulb had gone off in my head. For the first time, I began to understand that metaphor, similie, foreshadowing and such were part of the creative process -- that the writer wasn't necessarily maneuvering and making decisions as much as following unconscious motivations. The book I was reading at the time the light bulb went off was Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. I read it three or four times, and it also led me to read about 19th Century French history in order to understand the political and social factors that might have been influencing Flaubert -- since writers cannot help but be affected by the times in which they live.
Read the entire interview and visit Dani Shapiro's website.

--Marshal Zeringue