What's the best writing advice she's ever gotten? ''I can't recall,'' she says, '' but the worst was if you're not having fun, don't do it.'' Her latest collection is '' Concerning the Future of Souls : 99 Stories of Azrael.''

.-  What books are on your night stand?

Walton Ford's '' Pancha Tantra ''. A stunning assemblage of the painter's vivid and tragic work. Also, a tattered '' Testament Newydd '' found years ago in a broken church in Wales, re-bound through the kindness of New York's Argosy Book Store. I know only six words of Welsh but I love looking through it.

.-  A writer in New York Times once called you the '' pre-eminent bard of humanity's insignificance.'' Does the shoe fit?

Bard? Shoe? What peculiar words.

.-  What's the last book you read that made you laugh?

Jim Gauer's '' Novel Explosives.'' Brainy, brutal, cyclonic.

.-  The book that made you furious?

It's not the last book, but Sue KIebold's '' A Mother's Reckoning : Living in the Aftermath of  Tragedy.''

.-  Is it true that you don't believe in revision?

I write slowly, put a lot of pressure on the line and page before I move on. Commiting to a word then realizing that it's not the right one and seeking another, that's revision I suppose.

It's drafts I don't believe in. I'm averse to entertaining the thought that what I'm working on is a first draft, which implies the necessity of a second, even a third.

.-  Are there any classic novels that you only recently read for the first time?

Pushkin's '' Eugene Onegin '' and Platonov's '' Chevengur.'' I've discovered Platonov's short fiction, too, collected in '' Soul, '' for which the co-translator Robert Chandler has provided an excellent introduction.

The work is fresh, sorrowful, calmly strange.

.-  You're organizing a literary dinner party.  Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?

This is not the time for dinner parties! Serene consumption, self-treasuring and holding forth will not heal our stricken earth.

Our annihilation of species and the environmental devastation we've caused and allowed is our sin and our shame and we need an enormous shift in our manner of being and thinking - a change of heart and conscience.

Fiction's role in effecting this change is large but it must become less familiar, more lexically and spiritually daring.

[ Returning to the idea of the dinner party, if dead guests did show up wouldn't they find the living and ones faintly ridiculous?]

.-  Is there anything you're afraid you won't have time to write about?

What a question .............  but thanks for your interest.

The World Students Society thanks The New York Times.


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