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In one of your previous interviews you commented that you consider fiction to be the constrained genre. RR: I don’t exactly think of fiction as a “constrained genre.” It is more simply that fiction is, for me, less intriguing than non-fiction. And I write always within the unforgiving borders of non-fiction.I read histories and biographies and memoirs and essays. As a writer I am interested in the ways that the poetic impulse can be utilized in our writing of issues we normally consign to the social sciences and to journalism.
I was in graduate school, preparing to become a teacher of English—probably at the college level—when I found myself the uneasy beneficiary of affirmative action.
Ultimately, I left the university (and abandoned my teaching plans) in protest against affirmative action.
SL: In one of your interviews you spoke about summoning writing – that it feels as if you’re a conduit, as if the words come to you as if they had been waiting in the ether for you to put them to paper. The writer waits until the graces (or grace) flows through him. The writing which Monday was so sluggish is suddenly free on Tuesday. SL: RR: Basically, the narrative that interests me is the narrative of our thinking lives. I want to indicate to the reader the process of thinking, even more than I am interested in the conclusion of my thinking.
Thought is always moving—changing, deepening, contradicting itself, etc.
The only experience I would compare with what you are saying is my experience as a schoolboy and an altar boy with Latin.
The Latin mass was the great joy of my young life, not newfound American English.This attempt to blur the line between the literary and the non-fictional is what interests me now, and frees my hand.SL: RR: I suppose “surprise” enters the writing process for me when I revise and revise and revise. In each case, the possibilities for my prose depend on remembering my audience.We turn to song, wherein the music of human voice renders words of secondary importance.SL: Your writing about your early experiences with language, and the concepts of private and public languages, reminds me of how it is for me in synagogue.Rodriguez wrote about his early experiences in Catholic school and his assimilation to America in his first book, , further explore issues of culture, race, and identity.Rodriguez has received the George Foster Peabody Award, the Frankel Medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the International Journalism Award from the World Affairs Council of California.His work has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award.Richard Rodriguez: I was an accidental writer at the start.Because I learned this private language, I’m included in something that’s larger than the sum of the individuals.What are your thoughts on language and inclusion, and the functions of public and private language? The value and power of an exclusive private language that is also public is so interesting to me.