Thursday, March 1, 2012

Liz Moore

Jessica Soffer interviewed Liz Moore for Tottenville Review about Moore's new novel, Heft. The start of the Q & A:


You’re a musician, as well as a writer. In your first book, The Words of Every Song, music was at the forefront. But there are more subtle ways, of course, for music to feature into a text. What role does music play in your writing, in Heft?


You’re a gentleman, as well as a scholar. I miss music. My guitar is sitting in my basement. I have nightmares sometimes that it has cracked in five places because it’s dry down there due to the furnace, but I’m too scared to check on it.

Maybe one day I’ll go back to music and get up a lot of courage and energy and play shows again. For the time being, I am content to be a writer and teacher—but yes, my history of playing music has infected my approach to both.

Writing-wise: I suppose every writer does this to a certain extent, but I am obsessed with the rhythm of my sentences—especially the rhythm of their endings. Sometimes I’ll get the cadence of a sentence in my ear before the words have come; when this happens, I find myself actively searching for words with the required number of syllables and the required stress pattern. For example, the opening sentence of Heft is “The first thing you must know about me is that I am colossally fat.” I like this sentence because of the number of short dull monotonous words at its start, none of which is stressed, followed by the long word “colossally,” followed by the thud of “FAT.” It could not be “The first thing you must know about me is that I am very fat,” nor could it be “The first thing you must know about me is that I am colossally obese.”

Teaching-wise: at times I feel like I’m performing, as I did when I played music. Standing in front of a group of people and trying to get them to pay attention and trying to convey something that’s important to you…there’s a similarity, there. Maybe my years of honing my stage banter have helped me in some way. Maybe not.


Is that how your characters evolve from you, take on a life of their own—through the music of their voices?


I suppose...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue