Here’s a brief and lovely interview with Jim Shepard about his new story, Boy’s Town, which appears this week in the New Yorker. Here’s a sampling:
“Boys Town” is about a man who believes that nothing he’s done in his life has ever been good enough. When did you first start thinking about your protagonist?
I’ve written about those sorts of protagonists all of my life. It seems to me that that kind of radical disenchantment with one’s self—wedded, at the same time, to an enormous capacity for self-deception, as well—has been an ongoing subject of mine. I’ve always been interested, both in other writers’ work and my own, in protagonists who leave the reader to sort through what they’ve figured out, what they’ve been unable to figure out, and what they refuse to try to figure out about themselves.
How often is your fiction inspired by real events? When you come across a news story or an account of a historical incident, do you immediately know that it might form the germ of a story?
Lately, my fiction has often been inspired by real events, either from history or science or the news. Initially I read just to please myself: the happy odd person left alone with his peculiar subjects. But every so often a particular human dilemma within a situation sticks with me, and that emotional resonance that I feel in such cases suggests to me that I might want to try to inhabit the situation a little more fully, in terms of my own empathetic imagination.
Read the rest here. And be sure to pick up a copy of The New Yorker this week and read Jim’s story.