Monday, June 6, 2011

Profile - Ernest Hebert

We've been featuring essays on fiction writing by Ernest Hebert on the blog over the last few months. Hebert lives in New Hampshire and teaches writing at Dartmouth College. Godine will publish his new novel, Never Back Down, in September 2011.

NH's Keene Sentinel published a profile on Hebert over the weekend:

Hebert’s stories are subtly funny, character-driven dramas of New England life. The plot of one Darby book — according to its dust jacket — revolves around a special town meeting on a proposal to build a shopping mall.

But if the stories are mundane, the themes are as lofty as they come.

“Religion, race and class — what else is there, really?” Hebert asks.

Hebert grew up on Oak Street in Keene and applied to Keene State in high school. But his test scores were so bad, he says, he didn’t get in. He worked for the phone company for several years before reapplying to Keene State, where he studied history and English in his late 20s.

Asked who he writes for, Herbert seems to dismiss the idea anyone would read his books.

“I write about working people, but I write in a literary style,” he says. “If I thought about audience I wouldn’t have written the books that I did, or I wouldn’t have written at all.”

From the Q&A "At a Glance" with Hebert:

How do you feel about being compared to William Faulkner?

Answer: “I hate being compared to William Faulkner — this kind of uppity, snooty southerner with his turgid prose based more or less on the Bible. I can’t bear to read Faulkner. It makes me want to puke, and you can quote me on all that. I just loathe Faulkner’s writing.”

Why do you write?

Answer: “It’s my way of thinking. I can only go so far when I think, and I realize that there’s so much more to understand about the world. So writing is my entry point to these mysteries of understanding. . . . I love language, I love words, I love to put them together. There’s a beauty to it; I love to play with words.”

Read the rest of the profile here.

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