11 April 2007

Shaving syllables

Publisher's Weekly presents an all-too brief conversation with Annie Dillard about The Maytrees. Sounds like her m.o. this time around is completely different from The Living, but the delight in words is the same:
Isn't it hard to kill off your own characters and writing?

I've made the decision many times. Of course, I always save them in a file. And then I got to the part that was really interesting: shaving the book by the syllable. If there was a three-syllable word, I'd say, is there a two syllable word for this, etc. That was really fun. And then I told my husband, Robert Richardson [author of William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism], "I'm having so much trouble." And he said, "Decide what the book is about and take away everything that isn't about that." That's a really good guideline. I always put a little index card above my desk that says: "This book is about THIS!"

So, what is this book about?

It's about the marriage of these two people. It's about their lifelong love. I wanted to call it a "Romantic Comedy about Light Pollution." Sadly, my editors made me remove my joke.
Looking forward to more interviews with her as the release date nears.

Again, I highly recommend reading "The Two of Us" (Harper's, Nov. 2003) if you're at all iffy about this one.

(Via TEV)

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