Unique or Idiosyncratic?: A Quick Q&A with Ben Fountain

Ben Fountain

Ben Fountain

INTERVIEWER: How important is it for a writer to be unique or idiosyncratic?

BEN FOUNTAIN: I think idiosyncrasy is a writer having a particular style. But what we’re really talking about is the way the writer sees the world and is able to embody an approximation of that vision in language. So it’s going to happen on its own. It’s not like you sit down and say, “I really like this style, so I want to be this kind of writer, like F. Scott Fitzgerald. Lyrical realism.” If you’re working at it genuinely over the years, it’s almost like a radio signal. You start tuning it in, and you fine-tune it, and you get closer and closer to the sound that’s in your ear and the vision that’s in your eye. Norman Mailer said that every book he wrote had a different style, and part of the challenge was finding the language and the idiom appropriate to the subject. As far as my own work, I don’t think this a lot in theoretical terms while I’m actually writing. I’m just trying to get it right, line by line. Whatever comes out, comes out.

From Wikipedia:

Ben Fountain (b. Chapel Hill, North Carolina) is an American fiction writer currently living in Dallas, Texas.

He is the author of Brief Encounters With Che Guevara, a collection of short stories. He has won numerous awards and inclusion of his work in New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best (2006).

Fountain’s latest novel, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, was released in early May 2012. The Oscar-winning screenwriter of Slumdog Millionaire, Simon Beaufoy, is adapting the novel into a screenplay a new Film4 project in collaboration with The Ink Factory, a U.S. production company. As yet, no director is attached.


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