Thursday, May 20, 2010

Three Question Challenge #6

MINI-INTERVIEW: Christopher Higgs.

(Christopher Higgs is the humble author of an amazing novel called The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney at

1.) Does American literature need to be overhauled?

CHRISTOPHER HIGGS: The idea of “American literature” is too vast to be reduced to a single homogenous unit from which one can make the claim that it does or does not need to be overhauled. Am I in favor of experimentation? Yes. Am I in favor of challenging persistent paradigms? Yes. Am I an advocate for the burgeoning field of small press/independent publishing? Yes. But I’m not sure what exactly one would overhaul, were one interested in overhauling. If you mean: should other people win awards besides Rick Moody? I don’t really care about that. I just do my thing.

2.) Is the professionalization of the art a good or bad thing?

CHRISTOPHER: If by “professionalization” you are referring to academic creative writing programs, I would say that in my experience those institutions are machines that tend to produce other likeminded machines. They rarely produce artists. More often they produce entertainers. But I don’t make distinctions between those who have formal education and those who do not, when evaluating literature. I only make distinctions between boring material and interesting material. Many boring works come out of writing programs, and many boring works come from autodidacts. Similarly, many interesting works come out of writing programs, and many from autodidacts.

3.) Is the literary world open to contrary ideas?

CHRISTOPHER: Like the real world, the literary world has different neighborhoods. There are gated communities housing literary aristocracy; suburbs filled with midlist writers; gritty inner city scribes, and those who write from the projects. There are those who write from property on the edge of town, or way out in the wilderness, and then there are literary nomads who move between or away from other neighborhoods. Obviously the ideas found in one neighborhood won’t necessarily correspond with another neighborhood, and within each neighborhood there will inevitably be levels of differentiation. Probably some neighborhoods are more open to contrary ideas than others.

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