Is there any book, written by someone else, that you wish you’d written?
No, my mind refuses to work that way. Can’t separate writer and written. I love and admire Virginia Woolf, but that doesn’t mean I want to be her, as I’d have to be to have written To the Lighthouse.
What will your field look like twenty-five years from now?
My field? What is my field, I wonder. My favourite field is the one below the barn at the old ranch in California. I hope in twenty-five years it looks just the way it does now, all wild oats and chicory and foxtail and voles and jackrabbits and quail.
Which of your contemporaries will be read 100 years from now?
I can happily claim José Saramago as my contemporary, and do so, and hope he will be read as long as novels are.
What author or book do you think is most underrated? And why?
I don’t know which leads a long list. Let’s say Grace Paley for the author and H. L. Davis’s Honey in the Horn for the book. Why are they underrated? Well, one was a Leftist woman and the other was an intransigent Westerner, to start with.
What author or book do you think is most overrated? And why?
At the moment, Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet. If only she’d stopped with the first volume.
If you could be a writer in any time and place, when and where would it be?
Here and now will do very nicely, thank you.
If you could make a change to anything you’ve written over the years, what would it be?
In The Dispossessed, I would mention the communal pickle barrels at street corners in the big towns, restocked by whoever in the community has made or kept more pickles than they need. I knew about the free pickles all along, but never could fit them into the book.
Which is your least favourite fictional character?
Do you mean which one do I think is most unbelievable, or which one do I loathe most? I guess God in the Book of Job would qualify for both.