place is all

From an interview between The Paris Review and William Goyen in 1975.


How do you react to the charges of being a regional writer?


For me, environment is all. Place—as I was saying about my students—is absolutely essential. I know the vogue for the non-place, the placeless place, à la Beckett, is very much an influence on writing these days. It has been said that places don’t exist anymore. That everything looks alike. There is the same Howard Johnson on your turnpike in Kansas as there is in Miami and in the state of Washington. And the same kind of architecture dominates the new office buildings and the skyscraper. What is a writer to do? Free the “reality” of his environment? To lament loss of place, to search for it in memory? Because within place is culture, style. We speak of a lost way of life. In many of my books and stories, I’ve felt the need to re-create, to restore lost ways, lost places, lost styles of living.

Words of insight that sum me up precisely. I fall in love with places, not people, and therefore reading or writing place as character has always been such a consuming idea in my history with literature.


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