Private: Baxter interview and more

Robert Birnbaum interviews Charles Baxter at The Morning News today. Among other things, Baxter talks about the influence of music on his writing, and the trajectory of a story:

I think that most writers looking back at their books often feel a sense of contingency. Once you have finished a book, you usually feel that that’s the way it had to be. While you are writing it, it doesn’t feel that way. The formal properties of the work often seem to be variable and fluid, to use that word again. And if I had outlined the novel before I began writing it, it might very well have taken a different form.

The author also reveals that he has an essay forthcoming in The Believer:

RB: In the November issue?

CB: I think so. I’ve written an essay about how most writers now don’t describe faces anymore, either as an index to character in the way the 19th-century novelists tended to do, or as a dramatic inflexion. You are more likely to get descriptions of clothes or body language than you are of faces. I just wanted to ask myself why.

On this page, in an older interview, Baxter talks about his short story, “Gryphon.” At the bottom of the page is a link to an audio reading from the story.

An excerpt of Baxter’s The Feast of Love is available at Random House.