Welcome to Late Night Conversation. This week Paul speaks with Ben Percy whose latest novel Red Moon (Grand Central Publishing) has been described as both “a remarkably rendered speculative history of America” and as “a terrifically hairy werewolf novel.” At issue in tonight’s program: Do genre distinctions actually matter, or are they little more than a neat-freaky obsession with putting labels on writers?
Tune in as Paul and Ben discuss Ben’s childhood and upbringing in rural Oregon, Ben’s frighteningly deep voice, the difficulty short story writers often experience in attempting to draft a novel manuscript, Powell’s books as Ben’s childhood Shangri-La, Sergio Leone and the “Spaghetti Western” and the importance of making things new, literary fiction as its own genre, the “avengerization” of literature, the significance and value of book reviews, and the purposefulness of coincidence in a good story.
“Look at the long hoof-marked trail of literature and you see the fantastic and you see stories that are plotted. Look to Poe, look to Shirley Jackson, look to Nathaniel Hawthorne, for God’s sake, who writes about the devil in the woods . . . I am shrugging off what I consider constraints and trying to tell the best story I can in the sharpest way possible.”
Listen here . . .
About our guest:
B enjamin Percy is the author of two novels, Red Moon (Grand Central/Hachette , 2013) and The Wilding (Graywolf Press, 2010), as well as two books of short stories, Refresh, Refresh (Graywolf Press, 2007) and The Language of Elk (Grand Central/Hachette, 2012; Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2006).