The World War II generation gets held up as a model for when people were in agreement about what democracy was. What I hope this book can get at is that people meant all kinds of things by democracy then.
Can you get your reader to say, OK, I’m in a dreaming mind at the moment, and this is what the mind is dreaming? If you can do that then a photograph can work and have no evidentiary function.
Wallace has been transformed from a writer people were reluctant to take seriously, and who was deemed profoundly derivative of Pynchon, to a writer people fall over themselves to namecheck.
I trust the reader to be able to understand the horror and tenderness innate in a situation. My job is to write it down as clearly as I can, and without judgment. There’s a difference between voyeurism and witness.
“If the city of my birth should wish to perpetuate my name clearly but harmlessly,” Steinbeck once suggested, “let it name a bowling alley after me or a dog track or even a medium price, low-church brothel.”
I know some of them have extreme content, but to me it’s always been organic to the stories and not designed to shock for shock’s sake. To me, all my books are serious books, written with serious intent.