Last night I stayed up way too late because I had to finish Bastard Out of Carolina. I couldn't put it down, and after I was done, I stayed awake just thinking about it for a long time. So many stories that don't often get told find a voice in that book.

There's an good interview with Allison at Identity Theory, in which she discussed her work, its themes, and how it's received around the world. She also discusses pop culture, literature and the travails of the writer's life:
RB: What about the aspirations of the students in the literary programs? Why do they want to get into something that at best means worrying about the decisions that you were talking about?

DA: They don't expect to make a killing. Some do. One of the first things is I say, "Get a decent day job that won't eat you alive. If you think you are going to make a decent living as a writer, ask yourself, why I am here teaching you?" I make a fair to decent amount of money off my books but not enough to live on. If you want to write literary novels you better love the field and you better have something in mind that you want to accomplish that isn't about a large bank account or a 401k. It ain't happening. The thing that makes me angry and really complicates it—it is in some ways almost a vow of poverty to write literary novels that ignore the marketplace element. I find that to be tragic. It was shocking to me when I went to teach in Italy—and I've taught in France and been to visit in England, outside this country the approach to literature is remarkably different. Most countries have a system by which literary writers can at least live and write. In this country it is entirely shaped by the marketplace and, most of the literary writers I know teach. Some of them are good teachers, but a lot of them are not. But they have to make a living. It does have an impact on our literature.
I just had the best daydream, wherein I realized that, in my perfect world, an evening with Dorothy Allison and Maureen Gibbon would be, like, the ultimate Cupcake reading.

Everyone has their own ideas, of course, and I always like to get different perspectives. Who would you most love to hear read at Cupcake?


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