Richard Price on Clockers, research, and much more

Prior to the NBCC’s “In Retrospect” series, I’d never heard of Richard Price’s Clockers. Now that I’ve been reading about it, I’m determined to read it, especially because the series has excellent taste—Norman Rush’s Mating was another featured novel.

See a marvelous interview with Price here. I can’t find a good representative sample of the interview, which is too big to summarize, but I’ll note this:

Q: So why not do a nonfiction book?

A: Because nonfiction is nonfiction. There’s nothing for me to do there except report. I ask journalists the same question: Don’t you want to just make this stuff up? And they’ll say to me, “You can’t top this stuff.” Their attitude is, you know, “I’m very good at summarizing what’s out there. And what’s out there is: God’s a first-rate novelist.” My attitude is like, is if it’s already out there, to me, that’s like clerical work. Although it’s not–I know that. But to me, I want to take all that stuff and fashion a metaphor from it. Because oftentimes, the way life unfolds, it’s very random and chaotic. It’s only in the history books where you look back everything seemed like it all happened in seven streamlined paragraphs. But daily life is much more meandering, and what a novel can do is condense and essentialize, and highlight. That’s what I like.

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