There seems to be a growing awareness in literature
of smaller places. Maybe it’s been there all along, and I just haven’t noticed
it, and I was wondering what you think about that. Do you feel like you’re part
of sort of an impromptu trend of highlighting these small places?
I’ve been thinking about that, too. What Frank
Bill, Donald Ray Pollock, and Garrison Keillor describe as subculture don’t
make an effort to really relate subcultures to the society as a whole so there
are no nice Lutherans in Frank Bill, and there are no meth labs in Garrison
Keillor. Snapper kind of tries to sit
between them and incorporate all kinds of things. I’m not sure that actually
answers your question, but that’s what I think about it. I didn’t want to write
about subculture, put it that way. I wanted to write about all of Southern
Indiana, and the birds, in some sense, are a pretext for Nathan to go off and
encounter these varieties of Hoosiers of humanity, all of which are somewhat surprising.
You do have a range of such beautiful moments with
nature, and then there’s these less beautiful moments with drugs and the
grandparents’ racist sign and whether or not it is or isn’t a joke; those kinds
of everyday small moments that add up to the much larger picture. I guess that
comes out of that attempt to portray the whole thing and not the small piece.
Yeah. I stole a pack of bubblegum from this kid in
my driver’s ed class when I was fifteen. I know you don’t know where this is
going, but trust me. He punched me once, and I woke up in the emergency room
with a defective left ear… Sometimes I talk to my dad about crime,
unemployment, drugs in Evansville, Indiana, and he says, “Well, it doesn’t
affect me.” I say, “Do you remember, me in the emergency room with blood coming
out of my ears?” I don’t want to say the book is just a reproof to my dad, but there
is some insularity in the way a lot of people live, and I wanted to show how it
all fits together.