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The Milton Measure

Bingham Visiting Writer, Rick Moody, speaks to Upper School

by on Friday, November 11th, 2011

Rick Moody, an American novelist and short story writer, best known for his novel The Ice Storm which was later adapted into a film, visited Milton Academy on Wednesday, November 2, 2011 as this year’s Bingham Visiting Writer. The series, instituted by the Bingham family, brings notable writers to campus to read selections of their pieces and work with students; this year Rick Moody spoke at an assembly and met with Creative Writing and English classes.

Last Thursday, The Milton Measure had the opportunity to speak with Rick Moody.

The Milton Measure: What made you initially want to become a writer?

Rick Moody: Reading. Reading made me want to become a writer. I read a lot as a kid. My parents read a lot and I was so enthusiastic about what I was reading that I sort of felt eventually that it might be possible for me to be on the shelf with the other writers.

TMM: What is your favorite piece you have ever written?

RM: I tend to tolerate whatever the most recent thing is, and the most recent book is a novel called The Four Fingers of Death, so for the moment I like it the best; although I reserve the right to dislike it later on.

TMM: In terms of popular opinion, and the way you choose to write, how do you handle criticism? Do you read your critiques?

RM: Not so much. I don’t read the positive remarks or the negative remarks. I just try to stay out of all that. The good ones are never good enough and the bad ones set you back a month.

TMM: In the time you’ve spent here, in English classes the last couple of days, what is your general perception of Milton Students?

RM: Really, incredibly enthusiastic, well- prepared, engaged, smart. It’s just been thoroughly pleasant from that point of view of the student body. Really fun to engage with.

TMM: You talked about how plot was not necessarily the most important thing to you. What direction do you think modern writing in general is headed toward?

RM: Well, it has various aspects, and there is some American naturalist short fiction that is very oriented toward epiphany and it’s very predictable in its story. There is some American writing that’s heavily plotted. Those just happen to be approaches that are not mine. I would prefer if American fiction were more experimental and more probing and more about form and more about trying to get the point to do new things. And there is some of that.TMM: Do you read the work of other American authors a lot, and if so, how do you make yourself separate from that?

RM: Yeah, I read contemporary fiction, but I’m not influenced by my contemporaries anymore. You just get to a point where that’s not an issue. I’m sort of on my own merry way.

TMM: You talked about how as a child you read science fiction. You recently wrote a science fiction novel. To what extent do you think the experiences that you have had personally effect what you are writing and what you decide to write?

RM: Well, your personal experience always effects what you decide to write. The question is how that mechanism works exactly, and I’m not always sure. The ideas come to me and they are based on where I am at a specific moment, but also what I think literature is doing at a specific moment. How I want to engage with what’s happening around me among other writers, and not just in the US, but also in European fiction, Asian fiction; what’s happening globally with literature.

TMM: What are you working on currently?

RM: New novel. Sort of slightly political. It has a political cast and fewer jokes.

TMM: How was the experience of having your book made into a movie?

RM: Well, I enjoyed it. He was a great filmmaker. He is a great filmmaker and I was really lucky. I entered into the process imagining it would be horrible and that the experience would be dark and dispiriting in some way, and I was very pleasantly surprised that it came out as well as it came out.

Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=2343

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