BAJ: How long did you work on Varieties of Disturbance?Read the full interview.
LD: My previous book, Samuel Johnson Is Indignant, came out nearly six years ago, so during the intervening time I was working on many of the stories in this collection. But I was also working on my translation of Proust's Swann's Way, which took a great deal of time. On the other hand, I did include in this collection, as I had in previous ones, some older stories that had fallen out of print. I like to mix up the old and the new.
BAJ: What drew you to the stories?
LD: A few of the stories, especially the longer ones, were inspired by other texts and incorporate the language of other people, including non-writers (as, for instance, the study of the fourth-graders' get-well letters called "We Miss You"). I find the writing of non-writers, in particular, wonderfully fresh and surprising, and in some of the stories in this book I enjoyed taking it up and combining it with my own writing. More generally, what lies at the source of these stories is some strong emotion, whether that emotion is grief, anger, indignation, love, pity, or even delight in a piece of language.