CB: I don’t know. These sorts of generalizations make me uncomfortable. They made me uncomfortable when I was writing it and they still do. To some extent, yeah, it’s still there. Society has a great deal of power. Culture has a great deal of power. And you yourself don’t have very much. And you’re being tossed around by the forces of economic and other kinds of circumstances. That’s the way you’re going to feel. So yeah, it’s still there. Today is Monday the 30th, and we’re about to have a government shut down. And everybody’s blaming everybody else. And nobody is going to take responsibility for this. So yeah, it’s still a landscape of disavowal, I think. Have you watched Girls?


SL: I have not. But I have been told by many people to watch it.


CB: It’s a very interesting series, and it has a lot to say about this particular problem. The question in the series is who has power and who doesn’t, and who’s susceptible to being pushed around.


SL: As I read all of these essays, they seemed very centered around a couple fundamental ideas. I think your essay “Stillness” got at a lot of them, and “The Inner Life of Objects.” And I think it’s an idea explored in The Art of Subtext — that there’s a life “beyond the veil” that animates the world around us but has been lost from sight and has been buried beneath the noise and the distraction. I guess the question that arises is how does the fiction writer convey that to the reader?


CB: Through the overtones and the undertones in a scene. The way the small details point to something that is almost visible. You know, the kind of vibration something gives off in a scene. I don’t think in fiction that you’re just reporting what happened. You’re reporting how it felt, as well as what happened. If you’re reporting how it felt, then you have to spend as much care as you can on the small details and what they aim to intimate.