Thursday, June 21, 2012

Patricia Hampl

Patricia Hampl's books include A Romantic Education, Virgin Time, Blue Arabesque, and The Florist’s Daughter, which received the Minnesota Book Award among many other honors.

From her ShootingStar* interview with Maureen Vance:

What writing do you consider to be of quality? What in other people’s writing strikes you, or what sort of writing do you like most to read?

I read in all the genres: I read poetry, I read fiction, short fiction, long fiction, I read a lot of nonfiction, of course: memoir, essays, research nonfiction, lots of different things. Inevitably, I probably… Well, no, I was about to say I probably read more memoir, but I don’t think I do, actually. For me, what really matters is — I know this will sound strange, because it isn’t like I exactly think of it consciously, but as you asked the question the way you did… I think that I really look for really strong sentences. I have to have a feeling that there’s somebody in the driver’s seat, that they understand… and in a way, it’s back to music again: I have to feel that they have a sense of the musicality of language: they’re not just giving me info, or even giving me feelings; I don’t want that. I want a deep engagement with language, as if you threw yourself on language because it could be your other self, and it could explain what you yourself interiorly can’t. So it’s that quality of some kind of deep, and intense, and maybe even struggl[ing] relationship with language that I love. That doesn’t mean I like only complex writing; I mean, if somebody said: “What would you like to sit and read?” I would probably reach for Chekhov. I love short stories in general. My favorite two writers in English at the moment are William Trevor and Alice Monroe, and they’re both largely short story writers.
Read the complete Q & A.

The Florist’s Daughter is on the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on mothers.

"Hampl is our purest memoirist," declares Robert Wilder. "In [The Florist’s Daughter], she effortlessly (and associatively) weaves the story of her parents, herself, St Paul, Fitzgerald, her father’s sadly wonderful floral business and the deep heart of America. Her work is like a rich tapestry: one can barely find any threads of structure or shape yet all of her stories and ideas blend beautifully."

--Marshal Zeringue