There are few novels I’m aware of that succeed so well in portraying love at its most torrid and incandescent stage as Eight White Nights. There are even less so determined to distend each sensation into lengthy reflections, yet which do so without bludgeoning the passion that is their ostensible subject. In this book, André Aciman has performed the former and avoided the latter. His nearly 400-page novel unfolds over the course of just eight nights (the first one alone lasts for 100 pages), charting and relentlessly psychologizing a sizzling, combative love. The book is romance in the tradition of Stendhal, consciousness in the tradition of Proust, a novel that recruits Beethoven’s quartets, Rohmer’s films, and Keats’ poetry into metaphors for new love in its many different faces.
The following interview was conducted via email over the course of a few weeks and was subsequently revised and re-ordered for concision and flow.
Scott Esposito: To start, Clara is an amazing character. She really lives on the pages of the book, whether you find her, like some critics, siren-like and achingly elusive, or, like others, manipulative and adolescent. So I’d like to start by asking you if the writing of this book began with Clara.
André Aciman: The book did begin with Clara. She has a bold and willful personality—she is a source of energy—and this energy totally overpowers the narrator, because it is arresting and because it is so unlike anything he is. That she is beautiful and wears a diaphanous shirt that exposes her collarbone gives a visually sexual dimension to her presence; but her energy alone is a source of irresistible sexual attraction. He wants more and finds himself not just overpowered but terrified of making the wrong move. True, most people introduce themselves at parties, but Clara basically thrusts her hand at him—out of the blue—and says “I am Clara.” He didn’t ask her. But he figures she must have noticed that he was trying to come up with something to say, perhaps, long before he’d even noticed her behind the Christmas tree. Obviously, he introduces himself after she does, which is what everyone does at parties—but the more interesting part is that, once he is alone at home later that night, he’ll probably sit back and thinkon what could I am Clara possibly have meant. Because it does presage a meaning, because it wasn’t just a meaningless I am so-and-so. I am Clara means “I know everyone of your little tricks,” “I know what you’re thinking,” “Don’t even go there—or go there, but don’t get too carried away.”
SE: Yes, she’s a very forceful presence throughout the book. She sets the tone just with that one little statement.
AA: I have always loved people who have forceful wills. Out of Egypt starts with such a character and so does Call Me by Your Name. That these characters end up being more timid and more vulnerable than the narrator initially though simply goes to prove that everyone is fundamentally scared of the unknown, that everyone has been hurt more times than they will to admit, and that, in Clara’s words, everyone is “Lying low.”
SE: I want to linger for a moment on your remark that “her energy alone is a source of irresistible sexual attraction.” This is very true. In this opening scene—a swanky Upper West Side Christmas Eve party that lasts for nearly 100 pages—Clara is doing this whole thing about variously encouraging the narrator’s advances and then spritzing him with cold water. Which a certain kind of woman tends to do, and which tends to have a certain effect on men, especially men like the narrator, a timid person who, as you say, almost immediately becomes terrified of looking lame and losing her. What about Clara so fascinated you that you crafted an entire book around her?
AA: One cannot “explain” or “justify” sexual attraction. To use a cliché: it is what it is. Part of the creative process seeks to provide something that comes close to being an answer to the question: Why am I attracted? Why do I crave? Why do I want? Writing is a way not even of providing answers, but of beginning the process that may ultimately lead to a repetition of the situation when desire first sprouted, a way of going back to the “source.”
SE: Indeed. The book makes a lot out of the pleasures of memory and replaying life in one’s mind.
AA: The reason why the book begins with the wish to “play back” how the two met is precisely to see if repeating the scenario might tell the narrator why he is so thoroughly smitten, to play with the scenario all over again, perhaps to master it, as Freud says about repetition. But there cannot be a “reason.” An attraction that needs a reason is not a reason the heart or the body cares much about. I want to touch this collarbone, I want to know these teeth, I want to eat breakfast in bed with her, I want to smell of her . . . We’re talking fantasy, not explanations.
Men have always desired dangerous, challenging, intimidating, seemingly cruel women. They may be no less vulnerable than other women, but they’re not intimidated. All men find such women threatening because they know that such women see through all of their cunning little games and know each of their hideaways. Such women call the shots—at least initially. The narrator is pretty tame; he’s had many a tame partner before and doesn’t need another tame person in his life. Kindness or politically correct views in a woman may make for a compatible partner, but kindness and political correctness don’t stir desire or our sexual organs, much less can they turn our universe upside down. Clara makes fun of people, of their accents, their ethnicity, says bad things to their face or behind their back, is never considerate, and, as she says, “doesn’t give a fuck about friendship”—friendship with the narrator, that is. She tells him to his face: I am ready to go all the way. And essentially asks him: Your move. Are you ready as well?
SE: This gets into another thing that really comes across on this first night is the importance of desire for the narrator, and for Clara as well. There’s this moment toward the end of the party where Clara is seeing the narrator out, and he’s more or less resigned to the fact that this whole encounter is just going to be one of those beautiful memories—that, in other words, he and Clara are never going to meet again—and he’s elated by it. He’s already picturing how he’ll take the bus past this apartment some day in the future and always remember it as the apartment where he spoke to Clara one night. This all struck me as extremely true to life, at least for a certain kind of romantic temperament. This sensation of romantic longing, which can be a very powerful feeling, was it something you were consciously trying to evoke as you wrote this book?
AA: The narrator is obviously an insecure and timid person who never assumes that bliss is waiting around the corner. He has had many affairs but he knows that the things that matter most in life seldom yield to our wishes, perhaps because we don’t know how to court them. Most of literature, in fact, may be about one thing: Why can’t I get what I want? Why are things difficult for me? Why are others luckier than I am? Even Achilles, the most masculine of alpha males, is afflicted. The answer may be that the narrator doesn’t know how to want. He has found a way of automatically turning wanting into resignation. And he’s found a way of making resignation comforting, of finding beauty in it.
As he also says in the “Second Night,” “the things we want most in life are so rarely given that when they are finally granted we seldom believe, don’t dare touch, and, without knowing, turn them down and ask them to reconsider whether it’s really us they’re truly being offered to.”
The narrator is resigned to this and knows how to live with it. He assumes he’ll never see Clara again and thinks ahead to those times in the future when he’ll want to cuddle the flame that had once warmed his heart at a Christmas Eve party. He doesn’t take Clara home with him that night; instead he takes the memory of having met her. Making memories is how we live with loss. Loss, which is an absence, a minus—and therefore a nothing—can thus be turned into a plus, into something. Poetry does this best. Which may explain why poetry is so important to the narrator—and why he is so baffled to discover its importance in someone as willful and prickly as Clara.
SE: Do you see romance as a sort of way of sublimating loss?
AA: The word romance is used several times in the novel to suggest that we can substitute romance for possession, the way longing can ultimately displace wanting. Romance is so compelling that the narrator will catch himself thinking that, rather than hasten sex, he prefers to “let the romance last a while longer and ripen on its vine.”
In a moment of blissful stupor after the party scene he will say:
Perhaps all I wanted was to sit and think, and think of nothing, sink into myself, dream, find all things beautiful, and, as I’d never allowed myself to do during the entire evening, to long for her, the way we long for someone we know we don’t stand a chance of meeting again, or of meeting on the exact same terms, but are all the same determined to long for, because longing makes us who we are, makes us better than who we are, because longing fills the heart. The way absence and sorrow and mourning fill the heart.
SE: This is true, but with these characters so caught up in romance I really think they have no future together. They want one another only for the sake of desire, not for actually who the other is. In my opinion, it was smart to keep the entire story to the first eight nights of their relationship, because I think this will be the part they remember as most distinct and most worthwhile, the part, as you say, that the narrator will want to replay. What struck you about this particular story as one that was worth telling?
AA: I think that all romances are about the arrival at some sort of admission and resolution. A love story is seldom about the nature of the relationship itself. What happens after the admission is really of no interest. The most poignant moment in Call Me by Your Name is not when the two lovers sleep together but when they confess wanting to. A romance, whether hot or chilly, is the story of how two strangers arrive at “speaking true.” Romances are about the possibility, the struggle, the promise of happiness; a good love story is about courtship (Austen) or about conquest (Stendhal) but seldom ever about domesticity—unless domesticity breeds subsidiary or adulterous courtships (Flaubert, Joyce, Lawrence). My character is aware of this and realizes that the best, or at least the most luminous moments in a relationship occur not after courtship but during courtship. It is the uncertainty, the ambivalence, the misreadings, the hopes and counter-hopes, the constant interpretations of signs that make romance the magical, desirable thing it is. Domesticity, barring exceptions, is more likely to kill romance, not feed it.
I wanted to take this period of courtship not so much to dissect it as to distend it and dilate it—the way Beethoven takes a particular moment of grace in his music and wishes to make it last—basically—forever. Readers accept a meticulous analysis of sentiments; but they want the payoff too. After the extended analysis, give us the sex. Give us plot, give us characters that we can identify with, give us action, give us the stuff of passion, bliss, and sorrow. Here the narrator hopes for bliss and intimacy, looks forward to it, but he also knows that life cheats you of it. Life either disappoints you—he already knows he’ll be disappointed the morning after they’ll have slept together—or life takes back the romance with one hand and hands you domesticity with other.
SE: Let’s pause here at Beethoven, since one of his pieces plays a substantial role in the courtship in Eight White Nights. It’s his very famous Heiliger Dankgesang, which the narrator gives to Clara as a sort of emblem of his budding love? This is from his late quartets and is among Beethoven’s most rigorous and difficult pieces of music, yet it was composed for a very grounded reason: as a thanks to his God for delivering him from a bout of extreme intestinal pain. Here’s how the narrator describes it:
And it’s about a simple handful of notes, plus a sustained, overextended hymn in the Lydian mode, which [Beethoven] loves and doesn’t wish to see end, because [he] likes repeating questions and deferring answers, because all answers are easy, because it’s not answers and clarity, or even ambiguity, that Beethoven wants. What he’s after is deferral and distended time, a grace period that never expires and that comes like memory, but isn’t memory, all cadence and no chaos. And he’ll keep repeating and extending the process until he’s left with five notes, three notes, one note, no note, no breath. Maybe art is just that, life without death. Life in the Lydian mode.
How do you see this piece as fitting into the courtship?
AA: The Dankgesang is the “theme” for healing and hope. And since the narrator is “on hold. On ice. Maybe in overhaul,” it represents both his sickness and convalescence. It is probably the most lyrical and effusive (and most complex, most layered) piece of music ever composed, and as such is meant to speak for him, to be a stand-in for him. He gives her the music because she has essentially inhibited him from “trying” anything with her. He cannot speak what he feels, much less is he free to touch her. This may explain why in the absence of speaking freely, he frequently breaks down: he cries when they dance together, he nearly faints when he bites into a spicy meatball, he finds himself totally speechless in the presence of someone to whom he wishes to unburden every one of his secrets. He is a complicated man—everyone is complicated and layered in that way—but what he feels is ordinary suffering… and fear. He is “shipwrecked, damaged, and wanting.” He may not even know why; the music knows why.
In a way, the concept of distended time and of repeated questions and deferred answers, of the “sustained, overextended hymn in the Lydian mode” is the leitmotiv of the love affair between the two. The putting off of what will surely come soon enough—maybe that’s he heart and soul of romance.
SE: I want to go back to the narrator’s remark on Beethoven, “he’ll keep repeating and extending the process until he’s left with five notes, three notes, one note, no note, no breath.” This quote suggests another reference point—Thomas Bernhard—in fact, that quote could be a précis of a large chunk of Bernhard’s novels. Is this an author that means anything to you?
AA: I’ll be lapidary in my answer. I tried reading him. Nothing. Means nothing at all. Since I can’t store books that I don’t read, it went the way of Bolaño and I won’t name the others, as they are all alive. An elegant way of putting it is: I gave these away.
SE: That’s interesting, because Bernhard certainly deals with arrested characters, which you seem to like, and Bolaño does as well, albeit to a lesser extent. Can you define what you didn’t like about these authors? I’ll take an educated guess and note that they both have very spare styles, whereas yours and that of the authors you admire seems to fall more toward profligacy and even the baroque.
AA: Profligacy and baroque are almost pejorative terms. Actually, if there is one thing I admire most about the writers I like and would hope to emulate it is their Classicism: a striving for clarity, radiance, cadence, harmony, and—believe it or not—economy. So nothing profligate here at all. All together, call it Grace—a Christian concept. Bolaño and Bernhard are nonsense, facile writers, and I wouldn’t waste my time discussing them. There are many other similar writers who have been receiving a great deal of attention from writers and reviewers recently, and that’s natural that they should get so much attention, since people read contemporary writers and read one another but don’t know a thing about the truly great writers. I always say: if you want to discuss or review my work, you must first read Thucydides, Tacitus, Machiavelli, Stendhal, and, yes, all of Proust, and a host of other writers who belong to an amazing tradition of psychological prose. Then we can talk. Because it’s only then you can begin to understand what I’m doing.
SE: Fair enough, though I assure you I meant profligacy and baroque in good ways. What I admire in, for instance, Proust, is how he can bend them both into writing that feels economical. But to change the subject entirely, your book also makes much of the films of Eric Rohmer. The viewing of his films becomes a sort of courtship ritual for the narrator and Clara, as they attend screenings at a Rohmer festival on most of their eight nights together. Rohmer’s films are examples of the second category of love in art that you identified above, that of “domesticity breed[ing] subsidiary or adulterous courtships.” Was their inclusion in this story a way of gesturing toward what the narrator and Clara will become one day?
AA: Yes, though I didn’t want to telegraph this too much. Rohmer is the only director I know of (with the exception of Neil LaBute in Your Friends and Neighbors and Wong Kar Wai in In the Mood for Love) where people are caught trying to figure out their “emotional transit.” They don’t use “shrink” talk (which gives us easy shortcuts to what we aren’t able to name about ourselves) and, despite appearances, they also try not to resort to “moral” talk (which gives us equally facile nicknames for what we can’t figure out). Part of the fun, if fun it is, is watching how self-deceived Rohmer’s characters always are. Each, for various reasons, finds ways to be tempted, to allow himself to be tempted, but then withdraws. He withdraws because in each case, he has someone better waiting in the wings. Rohmer avoids the implied drama here simply by giving each man a comfortable “out” that does not threaten his masculinity: one man wants to marry a good Catholic; the other wants to touch a knee and nothing more, because he already has a fiancée waiting for him in Sweden; and third is in love with his wife.
SE: It’s a different lens for viewing the temptation that animates the narrator’s relationship with Clara . . .
AA: Rohmer’s men like being tempted, and perhaps they would like to go all the way, but something definitely holds them back. Rohmer has his finger on something very real here: that sometimes, and for a short while, we all enjoy prospecting a would-be love without having to actualize it, or without knowing how to actualize it. Something definitely inhibits us. Rohmer does not overlook or bypass this moment of inhibition; rather he freezes it and distends it. Since action is not possible, or at least deferred, all that his characters can do is talk. Indeed, because they feel inhibited in this peculiarly urbane way—yes, one can be extremely urbane and inhibited at the same time!—they find themselves given over to a sort of jittery, over-stimulated state of self-consciousness.
They will even talk about what inhibits them in the very presence of the person they feel inhibited by! Theirs may not be psychological inhibition, nor is it necessarily an ethical inhibition—rather it is a sort of existential reluctance vis-à-vis physicality, vis-à-vis the ordinary, the actual, the real. This may explain, in part, the uncanny intellectual aura of his films where, with the exception of one film in particular, nothing profoundly intellectual really happens. His characters are arrested. As is Clara in my novel; as is the narrator. What happens once they pick up their pace—well, we don’t know. He wants to have children with her; and she with him. I think this is a good sign.
SE: Clearly, arrested characters are given to intellectualizing their situation, even if their own powers of thought are decidedly modest. Your previous novel also dealt with arrested characters parsing their emotions during a love affair, as well as the themes of longing and wanting to recollect a beautiful memory infused with desire. These characters seem to me to be part of a binary, with the “man of action” on the other side—Frank O’Connor made the argument that Turgenev was obsessed with this dichotomy, which he shorthanded as Hamlets versus Quixotes. For the former, I see art and metaphor as a safe way for them to concretize these feelings in the presence of the one that inhibits them. But, in the end does all this thinking do them any good? That is to say, in the end, no matter the amount of parsing he engages in, the narrator still needs to work up the nerve to call Clara, the nerve to grab her and give her a passionate kiss, doesn’t he?
AA: No, thinking does no one any good, especially when thinking and living, or thinking and loving are at loggerheads. But don’t forget that we have at least 5,000 years behind us that ordained that thinking was better than loving! We live in a strange, new world. Suddenly repression is deemed “unhealthy,” suddenly no one believes he or she is repressed any longer. Sex is suddenly clean now. I agree. But it would do us all a lot of good if we took a bit of time off . . . and probed how profoundly repressed we truly are, how ambivalent we are about this new sexuality of ours, how inhibited we all are despite our claims to the contrary. No one is not ill at ease when it comes to sex. To pretend otherwise is to lie. Eight White Nights, apart form being many other things, is a study of the uneasiness that totally urbane and secular people still feel vis-à-vis sex. Sex is easy; romance is what they’re after. What complicates things somewhat is the fact that to have romance you need, as the name for them is in my novel, otherpeoples.
What is someone else? This is a devastating question
SE: It is, and so the narrator tries to substitute romance for possession; he also seems to enjoy turning wanting into resignation. In my opinion these behaviors are linked—they’re strategies for turning this potentially dangerous relationship with Clara into something he has control over. To me, this rings of the aesthete. In a letter to The New Yorker you pointed out just how much the narrator lives within the words of poets, not to mention French movies, Beethoven’s quartets, and all kinds of other aesthetic experiences. He loves being a part of these little worlds he can inhabit without really ever participating, and I think a large part of his journey in the novel is seeing the value of existing in the world, rather than in these aestheticized realms where he can cut himself off from things.
AA: The word aesthete has negative connotations—it means foppish, priggish, or someone given to the fatuous and excessive search for “nice” things. This is not the case in Eight White Nights. Your question also harbors a veiled but clearly negative judgment that pits what you call “existing in the world” against “all kinds of other aesthetic experiences.” You thus posit a sort of brute yet naïve demarcation between, on the one hand, poets, French movies, Beethoven, Proust and, on the other, existing in the world—in short, rarefied, elitist high culture on one hand and the stuff of real, ordinary life on the other. Marcel Proust vs. Cormac McCarthy, Luchino Visconti vs. the Coen Brothers. What your questions fails to note is that everything that has anything to do with our life since we were cavemen has already cut us off from things. The dream of direct, unmediated experience of the “world” is ultimately more fatuous and more foppish a fantasy than civilized discontent or man’s aesthetic production. There is, in this sense, no such thing as a healthy or a healthier outlook on life
This said, yes, the narrator has his own way of deflecting despair and avoiding facing truths about himself: and he does so by quoting the poets to himself. By so doing he may not reach any answers, but by accessing “the best that has been thought and said” (Arnold) he definitely casts a luminous cloud over his life. This, as you say so well, gives him the illusion of control. It also allows him to give his life a narrative and find a cadence, a rhythm, and ultimately a semblance (just a semblance) of meaning in his life.
The reason why he needs a Clara in his life is that, though she may be no different herself, and indeed she too is given to classical music and to the poets, she seems to be destined to call each of his deflections by its name and to force him out of his “amphibalent” shell. Tell me what you want, she says. Tell me who you are. Say something, Take a stand. When he fails to answer as thoroughly as she’d like and asks her to tell him what she wants, it turns out she’s no better. Romance, even love, may be nothing more than a bridgehead to someone else, and through that someone else a way of finding something real in the “real world,” a way of finding that we too are real in that real world.
SE: A lot of the people who reviewed this novel saw the narrator as Proustian, and I suppose that this attempt to cut oneself off from life and analyze it is something that characterizes Proust’s narrator as well.
AA: Nothing pleases Proust more than when he finds that, despite all of his arcane aesthetic detours, he was all along quite grounded in real life, that art and literature, for all of their remoteness from ordinary existence, may very well turn out to be the most viable and most natural short cut to life itself.
SE: Some people have criticized the narrator’s voice. They’ll admit that it was wonderfully composed, but many have found it untrue to a well-to-do young man living in contemporary New York City. In their opinion you were mapping Proust onto modern day NYC, which they found too discontinuous to be believable. How would you respond?
AA: An author who really knows what he or she is doing invents (or reinvents) everything: style, language, tone, voice, characters, plot, reality, the world he or she lives in, the world everyone else on the planet lives in. Everything is taken and “processed” till it comes out sounding not only like something typical of that author but like something we’ve always known but never knew we knew—until we ran into that author. The Upper West Side exists, but ask Monet or Van Gogh or Hopper to paint it, or Billy Wilder to film it or Leonard Bernstein to compose music around it and you’d get their Upper West Side. The point of art is not to give you what you already feel comfortable with; that’s reporting, not art, that TV, not art, that’s magaziney art, not art. Art gives you so personal an interpretation that it compels you to say, “This here is more real than what I know is really out there.” A starry night by Van Gogh is more real than any starry night we’ll ever see. And this is true even if we know that Van Gogh’s nights will never really exist for us.
An author is not a reporter. An author who gives you what you think is real is merely a scrivener—he is not refashioning anything, and, as I said, authors need to refashion everything. Do you seriously think that Leopold Bloom is a typical (Jewish) Irishman? Do you by any stretch of the imagination think that Marcel is in any conceivable way a typical turn-of-the-century Parisian young man? Or that Bartelby is a typical office clerk. “Typical” exists in Hollywood and is then imported back into fiction to give us what we think is real.
SE: Fair enough, but then isn’t that a bit of a convenient answer?
AA: For the sake of argument, if I see Proust on Manhattan or if I see Rohmer on Manhattan—what’s so wrong with that? For all you know, I might see Dante everywhere I turn in Manhattan. Actually, what I am projecting on Manhattan is Aciman. There is absolutely no presumption in this.
Ask any New Yorker who’s read my short article on the M-5 bus and ask him: can he ever take the M-5 bus without thinking of that short piece by Aciman? Or ask anyone who has read my book if they can ever walk along 106th and Broadway without thinking of my book? Might as well turn to someone who’s seen Monet’s paintings of Bordighera and ask him if he can walk around Bordighera without projecting Monet all over the place. See what answer you get. An author’s voice itself alters reality.
SE: Sure, and clearly this is what you’re doing in Eight White Nights. But there’s another kind of first-person fiction that tends toward attempting to capture a representative voice of the times, something more purely mimetic, without any embellishment or interpretation. For instance, Catcher in the Rye. Do you find this approach valid?
AA: As I have said in many of my essays, there is no such thing as a mimetic representation—Auerbach would agree with this. There is only (mimetic) interpretation. The interpretation may be so persuasive that it ends up becoming a standard for future representations. That standard may be passed on over the years, sometimes generation after generation. But every author basically invents a representation. As Wilde once said, we begin to notice the fog of London not before reading about it but after reading about it. None of us may have seen or experienced what American patrician life is; but the standard is no longer Park Avenue or Southampton; the standard is the images given to us by Ralph Lauren ads set along the coast of Rhode Island. These images have become so ingrained in our collective imagination, that to propose anything else is to misrepresent “reality” and commit a mistake in mimesis. Pure mimesis, if it exists, is newspaperese, magazinese—in short, reportage. And literature has no interest in reportage.
Catcher in the Rye invented (or re-invented, if you will) the American adolescent narrative. It did this so well that it cast a retrospective film over everyone’s imagination and persuaded the men among them that this indeed was what their prep school adolescence was like. Incidentally, Catcher is about the most mediocre book published this side of the Atlantic. But its impact is so powerful that to attempt to distance oneself from or to find blemishes in it is to distance oneself from one’s own history and one’s own identity.
SE: What would you hope to be the impact of Eight White Nights on the narrative of courtship and romance in our times?
Perhaps I had better reply with a familiar scenario. You’ve gotten someone’s phone number and now, three days later, it’s time to call. You want to go out with that person, but you’re intimidated. You call. First ring, second ring, by the third you’re tempted to hang up, by the fourth you pray the answering machine picks up, by the fifth you’re cursing yourself for even calling. Now caller I.D. has identified you as well. A counter instinct tells you that there’s nothing to be ashamed of; you got the number because you wanted to call, otherwise you wouldn’t have asked for it. You try to boost yourself—you want to get to know this person better. And, yes, you were attracted—what of it? There’s nothing wrong about that. Take the bull by the horn, call again, go for it. But whom are you fooling? Calling feels awkward. You begin to make millions of excuses not to call. But this too doesn’t seem credible. Calling feels wrong, not calling feels wrong. Call it the middle mist.
The above scenario is the stuff of comedy and farce. But it’s what happens at the beginning of every romance. Eight White Nights is about difficulty, a difficulty that hovers over life itself and doesn’t go away and that shapes most of everything we do. We all find ways not to believe that such difficulties define how we fall in love, how we move from place to place, how we decide what career we want—how anything, really. We don’t want to admit it, but if you took a magnifying glass and placed it on our hesitations and our inexorable ambivalence about everything, even ourselves, you have Eight White Nights.
Eight White Nights is a psychological novel, a roman d’analyse, as the French call such novels. It lays bare the heart. It’s not for everyone.
Scott Esposito edits The Quarterly Conversation.
Read More on this Subject:
More from The Quarterly Conversation:
- The Immoralist by Andre Gide “I am neither sad nor gay; the air here fills you with a vague exhalation, induces a state which seems as remote from gaiety as it is from suffering; perhaps that is happiness.” “Our happiness, during this last part of the trip, was so untroubled, so calm, that I have...
- The Michael Martone Interview Michael Martone’s most recent books include Racing in Place: Collages, Fragments, Postcards, Ruins; Unconventions: Attempting the Art of Craft And the Craft of Art; Michael Martone, a collection of fake contributor’s notes; and The Blue Guide to Indiana (read The Quarterly Conversation’s review). Quarry Press has also recently published Double-Wide:...
- The Lynn Lurie Interview Lynn Lurie’s first novel, Corner of the Dead, was published in April of 2008. It follows Lisette, a human rights worker stationed in the Peruvian highlands during the 1980s. After witnessing the violence against the Quechua-speaking indigenous villagers by radical Maoist Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) guerillas and the military, she...
- The Other Half of Moby-Dick: The Damion Searls Interview Discussed in this interview: • ; or The Whale, by Herman Melville, edited by Damion Searls. Dalkey Archive Press. $8.00. • Moby Dick in Half the Time, by Herman Melville. Orion Books. $9.95, 336pp. Notoriously lengthy, difficult, and full of bizarre digressions, Moby-Dick practically invites abridgement. It was no surprise...
- Every Morpheme Counts: The Sam Lipsyte Interview Lipsyte: Well these were the famous classes that he taught and others have written about it. He would kind of perform an amazing monologue for hours that would be a work of art in and of itself, in the way it was constructed in real time and kept pulling threads...
Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.
Read more articles by Scott Esposito