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Our bookseller Matt got the chance to ask one of his favorite authors five questions. Patrick DeWitt is the author of Undermajordomo Minor, one of our Best Books of 2015.
Undermajordomo MinorPatrick DeWitt
The Sisters BrothersPatrick DeWitt
AblutionsPatrick DeWitt

1. The New York Times  review of Undermajordomo  begins by focusing on your handling of genre in each of your first three books which are so very different from each other. Is genre a helpful starting point for you when you begin a book? Is it something you consider? As in “now I’m going to write a western” etc., or is there something more organic to your approach?

I do seem to take solace in having a set starting point: The Sisters Brother being a western, Undermajordomo Minor being fable-influenced. There’s a comfort in the familiarity of an established landscape, but the fun part comes later, when I’m veering off course and towards more personal terrain.

2. You describe your new book Undermajordomo Minor  as something of a ‘bookend’ to your last book, The Sisters Brothers  (A Hudson Best Book of the Year). The books are very different in subject and setting but there are certainly parallels that can be drawn between them. Can you discuss what you mean with this bookend business?

I suppose I meant that they’re stemming from an ongoing fascination I have with not-now. I’m ready for this anti-contemporary fascination to pass, and I believe it will, but I’m finding it slow to go.

3. Who are some of the authors you feel most affinity to and/or who have most influenced your work?

I’m reading a Paula Fox book, Desperate Characters, and admiring to the point that it seems curious I was living without it before. This is exciting, but I have to remind myself it happens over and over again. There are endless books, and the list of authors who inspire me is always changing. I did include a list of authors on the acknowledgment page of Undermajordomo Minor who influenced that specific text.

4. Are you already at work on your next project?

In that I’m talking about it publicly without having actually begun the work, and thus likely jinxing the project, yes, hard at work.

5. Your novels take place all over the world, and the last two feature a lot of travel. Do you like to travel? Or perhaps more precisely, to set off on adventures?

I’m not a natural traveler in that I’m neither hardy nor particularly curious about places or events taking place outside my field of vision, which is sad, but what are you going to do. My work has yanked me to all sorts of odd corners of the world, though, and I’ve come to enjoy it, and it does sometimes feel an adventure in the classic youthful definition. Having just come back from tour I feel like I never want to leave home again, but this’ll pass soon enough, I’m sure.
Monday, February 22, 2016 - 6:15pm