Friday, December 17, 2010

Tenacity, endurance, persistence

For much of the ’70s Ms. Gordon was part of the experimental arts scene that flourished in Providence, attracting creative types from the Rhode Island School of Design and from the Brown writing program, then famously avant-garde. She wrote poetry, plays and a verse narrative, “The Bend, the Lip, the Kid, the Lip: Reallife Stories,” about a jailbird named McMagus who is convinced that the reason men become criminals is that their penises are unnaturally curved.

“I wasn’t writing about anything in the real world,” Ms. Gordon said. “I was just writing about the language that was thronging in my brain. I didn’t write realism until I was 35.”

To write a novel that was even remotely commercial, she went on, she had to get out of Providence, where even to think of such a thing was considered a sell out, and yet even after she moved, success did not immediately come her way.

“I had to confess that I do think about an audience, and I don’t think that’s so bad,” she said. “I’m a reader, and so I know what it’s like. That power — I wanted it so badly.”

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