This Writing Life podcast talked to Bill Clegg shortly after the publication of his first novel, Did You Ever Have a Family? Just longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, it was one of the year's most intriguing debuts. ----more----It begins with a tragedy: a house-fire that kills a family on the eve of a wedding in a small-town in rural America. What holds the interest is not the mystery of what happened, but the vapour trails of grief that float between the survivors: above all June, the mother of the bride, and Lydia, the mother of the groom.
During a lengthy conversation, we discussed his childhood, the death of his father, his successful career as a literary agent, the drug addiction that almost lost him everything, not to mention his more recent adventures as a writer.
In part one of Episode 68, backed by some nice hi hat cymbal, we talked about:
economics and small-town America
Bill Clegg's own childhood in small-town America
how rural small-town America is changing from farmlands to weekending New Yorkers
love, envy and resentment in Sharon, Connecticut (Clegg's hometown)
the pros and cons of growing up in small-town America
car crashes, anonymity v small-town fame (how many times can I write small-town)
Did You Ever Have a Family? chatter (with some Stevie Wonder in the background)
fiction v non-fiction
addiction, sobriety, writing and coming to terms with the past:
tragedy, addiction and Did You Ever Have a Family?