Carole Maso is the author of nine books including The Art Lover, AVA and Defiance, novels; Break Every Rule, a book of essays; Aureole and Beauty is Convulsive, prose poems: and a memoir The Room Lit By Roses. She is Professor of Literary Arts at Brown University.
She’s interviewed here by David F. Hoenigman, author of Burn Your Belongings.
DH: What projects are you currently working on?
CM: I am working on two books just now. One is a book of very short stories called Mother & Child, which follows two figures through ordinary but rather dangerous terrain. I am happy to be doing this one as I’ve never really written stories before. It’s very close—maybe a few months before I finish. I am also working a novel that incorporates along with the fiction– essay, memoir, graphics, prose poems—all sorts of narrative fields. It’s called The Bay of Angels and I’ve been working on it for fifteen years. In a way it feels like the book all my others have been an apprenticeship for. Like all of them, it’s a book I can’t write—and that’s what draws me to it. It is the reach I find beautiful.
DH: Do you consider yourself an experimental writer?
CM: I do consider myself a writer of experiment in that the available models for writing novels for instance do not approximate the ways I perceive and experience story and so I am put into the position of continually trying to find resonant shapes to approximate the world I move through, and the ways in which I live in language. Because my forms are not borrowed or inherited or already decided every day is a day of great excitement and surprise and joy. I feel content is wed to form and so with each project the shape has to be reinvented to some degree—and this requires the willingness to experiment, to risk appearing ridiculous, to fail if necessary. I am much more interested in producing a flawed, mortal document, than something that is just a nod to a certain set of conventions. I also tend to favor writing that is an event in some way, and not just the record of an event; it creates a more vulnerable, fluid space, where the unforeseen, or the errant, or something a a little wild is allowed to enter. It’s quite thrilling.
DH: What authors do you admire?
CM: I admire all great writing. This may be Homer or Sappho, or Pliny the Elder or Murasaki, or Shakespeare or Beckett or Kafka or Holderlin or Eliot or Stein or Dickinson or Cather or Hemingway or Woolf or Marquez or Morrison or Cortazar. Contemporary books I have recently been enthralled by include Coetzee’s Disgrace, Kertesz’s Kaddish for an Unborn Child, Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, and Sebald’s Austerlitz. I’ve also been reading a lot of Celan, Cioran, Toufic, Deleuze, Frame, Lispector, Inger Christensen, Louise Gluck. I’m also a mother and so I read a lot of Doctor Seuss and Lewis Carroll which I adore and I recently read the original Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi which is a wonderful thing!
DH: Have your literary tastes changed over the years?
CM: My tastes have not really changed much but I am more likely to pick up Dickens or Faulkner or Melville or Austen or any of the more canonical writers now, as I feel safely outside their sphere of influence.
DH: What is the most misunderstood aspect of your work?
CM: I think the most misunderstood aspect of my work is that it is difficult or not accessible. In some ways my work does not look like other work and yet once a door opens and a way in is found, it is actually not at all impenetrable or hard. More often than not the shapes my books take are dictated by passion, and deep emotion and many readers have written to me that after they have surrendered into the text without care for what it is, or how it is working, they have been offered opportunities for new and different kinds of reading experiences.
Image from VictoriaAdvocate.com
About the author:
David F. Hoenigman is the author of Burn Your Belongings.