Memorial | Bryan Washington | A Word on Words | NPT
"Memorial would not have been written, it certainly would not have been published...if not for the work of queer folks in this country, really carving, not only an enclave, but reiterating and repeating that...it is queer culture but it is also culture. This is culture." Author Bryan Washington talks to host J.T. Ellison about his debut novel MEMORIAL on NPT's A WORD ON WORDS.
- [Bryan] Hi, I'm Bryan Washington and this is "Memorial",
a story about love, about family,
about home and how home can change.
- [J.T.] There's a lot of cooking in the book.
Could you talk about how important it is
to feel comfortable in your kitchen
and how that translates into your life?
- The kitchen, like narratively,
just sort of as a narrative construct,
is just a really useful structural tool,
because it's the one space where a character,
where people pass through every single day
for one reason or another.
And there's a narrative for when they pass through it.
Like literally when, like what time of day.
there's a narrative for who they spend time with
in that particular space, right?
Like if they're avoiding someone, there's a reason for that,
there's a narrative there.
If they're willing to spend time with someone in that space,
there's a reason for that, there's a narrative there.
- [J.T.] What do you want the reader
to take away from this?
- The idea that many different things
can be true simultaneously.
And that one thing's being true
doesn't negate the importance or the significance
of another thing's being true.
At the same time, it was really important to me
not to write a book that was prescriptive
about any particular thing or person or way of being
but one in which characters and, you know,
people perhaps at large were allowed to change
and to make mistakes and to find one another
after they changed and after they made those mistakes.
- What is the best writing advice you've ever received?
- Not to write with an eye or an ear
toward monetization or to the market,
because the market really doesn't know what it wants
until it wants it.
But really writing toward your personal interests
and your personal obsessions and the things
that perhaps you think are interesting only to you,
at least in my immediate experience has yielded a result
in which you find out that no, it's not interesting to you.
Many other folks are interested in that.
- [J.T.] For more of my conversation with Bryan Washington,
visit awordonwords.org. (bell dinging)
- [Bryan] "Memorial" would not have been written
and it certainly would not have been published
and it would have not found its place
within the wider marketplace if not for the work
of queer folks in this country,
carving not only an enclave but reiterating and repeating
that it is queer culture but this is also culture,
like this, this is culture.
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