Having the opportunity to read such an extensive interview with Amy Hempel is akin to a unicorn sighting. My fascination with Hempel’s writing is borderline obsessive, so I stopped in the middle of a packet/packing-to-move bender in order to post this link to Paul Winner’s interview with Amy Hempel on Numéro Cinq … Enjoy!
– Mary Stein
Amy Hempel, The Art of Fiction No. 176
Interviewed by Paul Winner
Amy Hempel does not enjoy interviews. She quotes her friend Patty Marx: “I’m not good at small talk; I’m not good at big talk; and medium talk just doesn’t come up.” Talking about the self is both unseemly and unnerving, she feels, and dissecting her own deliberate process of composition through, in her words, “pointy-headed questions,” tends to provoke her exasperation. This makes for an elusive interview. However, over a humid June weekend at her home last year, Hempel behaved as a polite and gracious host who pointed out the sights and chatted about movies, politics, and theories of pet care, but nonetheless wanted very much to be doing all of it away from the tape recorder. Talking about writing, in particular, meant noticing how Hempel loves to quote, at length, those friends and writers dearest to her—and how much she prefers their words to her own.