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First Editions, Second Thoughts


 
My initial thought was, “I’m not going to do this.” You know, I don’t know if I speak for all writers but, for myself, I know that I don’t like to look at my old work. I tend to do everything I can not to open up old books.
When I started I was 29. I worked seven years on this book. I couldn’t bear to re-read it. So, in fact, I had not opened the Power Broker for forty years since it came out.
So for the first time in my life I wrote what I thought was an intimate letter to a stranger. It was probably the most bizarre act of writing I’ve ever been involved in. Things I put in were, kind of, anecdotes, ideas, memories. I wrote down a story about the original thing that happened that ignited the book for me, which was a wrong telephone call.
I think I did find a typo, which sort of annoyed me, but I’m not going to say where it is. I corrected it though.
I had people telling me, “Nobody’s going to read a book about Robert Moses,” but I just felt it had to be done because no one understood where this power came from.
This novel was turned down by seventeen publishers to begin with and now, you know, in the great ironies of time it’s published in over 40 languages.
It was very moving for me to turn the pages. Looking back on it you remember how broke you were, you know, and the rent every month, you know? Month after month.
There are elements in this book that go all the way back to 1967-68 when I was 20 years old. I carried them around with me for so long.
I remember writing and rewriting a paragraph over and over again and it was as vivid as if I was doing it 40 years ago. I always see something that could be better.

Source: nytimes


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