I don’t concentrate on any one period of history; I like to locate my stories in wildly different eras and places. I seem to be drawn to large, sprawling, uncomfortable swaths of American history, finding embedded within them a tight narrative that involves strife, heroism, and survival under difficult circumstances.
Writing children’s books gives a writer a very strong sense of narrative drive.
I do insist on making what I hope is sense so there’s always a coherent narrative or argument that the reader can follow.
Narrative is linear, but action has breadth and depth as well as height and is solid.
The narrative constructs the identity of the character, what can be called his or her narrative identity, in constructing that of the story told. It is the identity of the story that makes the identity of the character.
Even as I think of myself as a ‘rememberer,’ I also know my memory is probably doing all this work to reconstruct a narrative where I come off better.
Narrative identity takes part in the story’s movement, in the dialectic between order and disorder.
Probably the biggest influence on my career was the late John Hersey, who, while he was at ‘The New Yorker,’ wrote one of the masterpieces of narrative non-fiction, ‘Hiroshima.’ Hersey was a teacher of mine at Yale, and a friend. He got me to see the possibility of journalism not just as a business but as an art form.
Television has never known what to do with grief, which resists narrative: the dramas of grief are largely internal – for the bereaved, it is a chaotic, intense, episodic period, but the chaos is by and large subterranean, and easily appears static to the friendly onlooker who has absorbed the fact of loss and moved on.
Objects let you tell a narrative that encompasses everybody. Texts don’t.