Friday, September 6, 2013

Daniel Woodrell

Daniel Woodrell's latest novel, the first since 2006’s Winter’s Bone, is The Maid’s Version.

From the author's Q & A with Noah Charney for The Daily Beast:

You have a wonderful way of provoking in the reader a creeping dread, and I mean that as a compliment. From a writer’s perspective, is this something that you proactively seek to inject into your stories and novels, and if so is there a sort of recipe that you would recommend to other authors who admire the provocation of that sensation in your work?

Dread may be provoked because I don’t think about doing so, at all. I tell the story by feel, most of the time, and I am not much given to labyrinthian digressions, but seem to be naturally drawn to compression and pace, and the feelings come about on their own. Miles Davis once said (about ballads, I think) that starkness of presentation makes the romance all the more compelling. And there’s this from Thelonious Monk: “Just play the notes you really mean.”

The first page of The Maid’s Version has some haunting, incantatory prose. I was particularly struck with your use of some verbal repetitions: “She’s sit on the edge of her bed, long hair down, down to the floor and shaking as she brushed and brushed.” This produces a sort of songlike, ghost-lit campfire storytelling effect. Is this a conscious authorial technique on your part, or do you just let it flow and see what appears?

That sound and rhythm are ingrained by now. I learned a lot from Hemingway, Faulkner and Sherwood Anderson, the Bible, Dylan Thomas. All sorts of Irish writers: McGahern, O’Brien, O’Flaherty, Trevor, Bowen, Michael McLaverty, and a boatload more. And writers from the American South: Shirley Ann Grau, McCullers, O’Connor, Capote, McCarthy, Barry Hannah, and have always had very strong feelings for anything James Agee wrote. Add A.J. Liebling, Raymond Chandler, Hammett, Cain, and the boys, Nelson Algren and William Kennedy. Rhythm, repetition, incantation—all good to...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue