Word Patriots – Paul West, Historical Novels and Later Fictions
Welcome everyone. This week’s show is our third devoted to the work of master novelist Paul West and we will be examining his historical novels and his writings of the 1990s and the 2000s. Paul will also be celebrating his 82nd birthday this week, so my guests and I will all be saluting him and sending our highest regards, thanking him for the wonderful body of work he has given us through the years. This particular show has a very crowded dance card. Novelists Dave Kress and Joanna Scott will be joining me later in the broadcast as will critic David Madden, author of the 1993 study “Understanding Paul West.” But first up, we have birthday greetings from William H. Gass. I taped Bill’s tip of the hat last November after we did a show on Bill’s forthcoming novel “Middle C.” Dave Kress and I discuss West’s opposing Apollonian and Dionysian inclinations and his aviation novel “Terrestrials.” My next guest is novelist Joanna Scott. She is the author of ten books, including “The Manikin,” which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Joanna and I discuss Paul’s historical novels “Lord Byron’s Doctor” and “Rat Man of Paris” and two of his more personal, autobiographical fictions “Love’s Mansion” and “Life With Swan.” Joanna also stresses how many of Paul’s protagonists are virtuoso performers and how Paul himself turns history into virtuoso artistic performance. David W. Madden is professor of American and Irish literature at California State University in Sacramento. In “Understanding Paul West,” Madden offers an analytical introduction to West’s fiction, charting the writer’s daring experiments with narrative structure and form as well as his unceasing commitment to stylistic virtuosity. Madden also examines the novelist’s longstanding themes of personal alienation and the role of the artist in an inimical society. David and I discuss how in his later works Paul continues to adopt historical figures and events as the subjects of his fictions and how he takes enormous liberties with his source material, recombining and modifying elements to suit his fictional needs. We also discuss Paul’s novel of 9.11 “The Immensity Of The Here And Now” and Paul’s memoir of his 2004 stroke, “The Shadow Factory.” If you would like to know more about my books, please visit my website: www.markseinfelt.com. See also the Amazon pages for “Terrestrials”: http://www.amazon.com/Terrestrials-Paul-West/dp/087951891X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1328813398&sr=1-1and “Love’s Mansion”: http://www.amazon.com/Loves-Mansion-Paul-West/dp/0879515031/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1328813482&sr=1-1 .