Conversations with William Kennedy
University Press of Mississippi, 1997 - Biography & Autobiography - 269 pages
to read these interviews given between 1969 and 1996 is to gain insights into William Kennedy's high seriousness in pursuing the craft of fiction and to witness the artistic growth of this remarkable writer. The twenty-four interviews in this collection reveal how the opportunities and challenges in Kennedy's writing life parallel those other contemporary writers have faced in the last years of the century. "The high drama of imagined worlds," he says, "becomes a Rosetta Stone, the key that unlocks the very real mysteries and complexities of our daily lives." "You're inventing out of a confluence of known facts and random ideas," he says about the process of writing, "juxtaposing reality and abstractions, and then wham! You've got something brand new in your head, and on the page. You're functioning on a plane of existence you didn't know was possible. That's creation, and it's profound pleasure. It's what you live for." Readers of these interviews will be privy to another process as well, the arduous but exciting process by which Kennedy has emerged as a major voice in contemporary letters. His meteoric rise to fame in 1983 and his continuing popularity since are the stuff of drama and folklore. In that year his novel Ironweed, rejected earlier by thirteen publishers, was finally published by Viking. It earned him a MacArthur Award, the New York Book Critics Circle Award, and a Pulitzer Prize. Governor Mario Cuomo honored him with the New York State Governor's Arts Award and declared that in Kennedy "Albany [had] found its Homer." Hollywood came calling and secured screen rights to Ironweed, Legs, and Billy Phelan's Greatest Game. With Francis Ford Coppola, Kennedy co-wrote the screenplay of The Cotton Club. The career that lifted off with such dramatic momentum has shown no signs of flagging. With steady regularity, Kennedy continues to add to his Albany Cycle of novels, as he experiments boldly with the craft of fiction. Neila C. Seshachari is a professor of English at Weber State University. She is editor of Weber Studies: An Inter-disciplinary Humanities Journal.
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Albany Cycle Albany's American Averill Park Award Babenco became become began Billy Phelan Billy Phelan's Greatest bums Catholic character church Coppola Cotton Club created critics Dana Daniel Quinn Daugherty element everything father feel felt fiction film Flaming Corsage Francis Phelan friends gangster Gatsby happen Hemingway imagination Ink Truck interview Irish Irish-American Ironweed Jack Diamond Jack Legs Jack Nicholson journalism journalist Katrina Kennedy's kind knew language Legs Diamond literary literature live look MacArthur MacArthur Foundation magical Marquez McCaffery movie mystical mythic nedy never newspaper novelist O'Connell Old Bones Orson Phelan's Greatest Game play political published Puerto Rico Pulitzer Prize Quinn Quinn's Book Reilly San Juan Star Saul Bellow screenplay script sense Seshachari short stories Siena College Smith surreal talk tell there's things thought Times-Union took trying Viking wanted William Kennedy write a novel wrote York