On this episode of “Literary Arts: The Archive Project,” we reach back to the year 2000 to highlight one of the best conversations about writing found in our archives: A special event with Amy Bloom and Michael Cunningham.
Amy Bloom had just published a collection of stories entitled, “A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You,” and Cunningham had published one his most important and bestselling novels, “The Hours” just two years earlier. “The Hours,” went on to become a movie that received nine Academy Award nominations and just last year was made into an opera that was performed in Philadelphia and New York, among other cities.
These two old friends are among the best fiction writers at work in this county. At the time of this conversation, they were both at the height of their powers, making their talk both intimate and profound. There’s not an ounce of pretension or snobbery between them; they express nothing but humility and respect for the difficulties of writing fiction. In fact, the opening question of the conversation challenges the very the reason their work even exists when Cunningham and Bloom struggle to answer: Why write? They seem to forget that there is an audience of more than 2,000 watching them, as they discuss their art and what it means to them and what the art form might mean in the larger world.
Amy Bloom is the author of four novels: “White Houses,” “Lucky Us,” “Away,” and “Love Invents Us;” and three collections of short stories: “Where the God Of Love Hangs Out,” “Come to Me” (finalist for the National Book Award), and “A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You” (finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award). Her first book of nonfiction, “Normal: Transsexual CEOs, Crossdressing Cops and Hermaphrodites with Attitudes,” is a staple of university sociology and biology courses. Her most recent book is the widely acclaimed New York Times bestselling memoir, “In Love.” She has written for magazines such as The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Vogue, Elle, The Atlantic, Slate, and Salon, and her work has been translated into fifteen languages. She is the Director of the Shapiro Center at Wesleyan University.
Michael Cunningham is the author of the novels “A Home at the End of the World,” “Flesh and Blood,” “Specimen Days,” “By Nightfall,” and “The Snow Queen,” as well as the collection “A Wild Swan and Other Tales,” and the nonfiction book “Land’s End: A Walk in Provincetown.” He is the recipient of a Whiting Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and his work has appeared in The New Yorker and The Best American Short Stories. “The Hours” was a New York Times bestseller, and the winner of both the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Raised in Los Angeles, Michael Cunningham lives in New York City, and is a senior lecturer at Yale University.