Monday, December 05, 2005

Maud Newton invited Tom Piazza to her blog to say a few words about his new book, Why New Orleans Matters. Piazza wrote the book in five weeks, shortly after Katrina hit. He writes:

In writing Why New Orleans Matters in the weeks just after the hurricane, I felt almost that I was trying to will the city to stay alive, on the page at least, by summoning the sense of place and the music and food and human warmth that took me there initially.

He later goes on to say
I wish more fiction writers would tithe a certain amount of their energies to writing about politics and current events. If they are good they have tremendous evocative power at their disposal. I admire Denis Johnson and ZZ Packer for doing it. Sometimes, of course, it can go wrong. But fiction writers, because of the primacy they give to voice and point of view, tend to have more power available than your average reporter — more leverage on the objective events about which they report.

Interesting to think about political writing as a sort of tithing. It's a tithing I am happy to put my energies into. I have to admit that I don't always put as much care into my political writing as I do into my fiction--when I write about current events, I tend to do it quickly, without close attention to language (although that tends to be true during early drafts of fiction, as well--I just let it pour out in a rush). One of these days, it would be amazing to really take the time to develop more of a poetics around politics.

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