Two of my favorite American writers talk. What could be better?
Electronic Book Review: Can you speak a bit about the syntax used in the novel? Specifically, what aims were you trying to achieve by engaging in the use of very long and circular sentences? What were you hoping to create or evoke through syntax alone?
LT: First, I wanted to play with sentence structure, for my pleasure, and to see what I could do with it. At the same time, I wanted to establish her voice and find the way her mind might work, as unique to her, her ambivalence, her humor, her limits. The circularity and repetition of her thinking seemed to me the way thought, when you’re not thinking, happens. Also, if you’re an analysand, you hear your voice and watch your mind wander, stop and start, you censor it, see inhibitions, you take strange turns, words get scrambled, lead to events and incidents you couldn’t predict, and you contradict yourself often. Unlike “stream of consciousness,” which American Genius is not, the mind returns to themes and incidents again and again in different contexts, but there are fixed points, “blocks.” It’s not all about the free play of language – that’s about writing as writing – but when attached to the unconscious, written thought will represent memories and events you can’t avoid and keep going back to. Everything you know and don’t know.