A Very Fine Animal

I have been finishing up the copy edits on The Bone Orchard, and this morning at breakfast, I happened to come across an interview Norman Mailer did with the Paris Review. One paragraph leapt out at me:

A book takes on its own life in the writing. It has its laws, it becomes a creature to you after a while. One feels a bit like a master who's got a fine animal. Very often I'll feel a certain shame for what I've done with a novel. I won't say it's the novel that's bad; I'll say it's I who was bad. Almost as if the novel did not really belong to me, as if it was something raised by me like a child. I know what's potentially beautiful in my novel, you see. Very often after I've done the novel, I realize that that beauty which I recognize in it is not going to be recognized by the reader. I didn't succeed in bringing it out. It's very odd—it's as though I had let the novel down, owed it a duty that I didn't fulfill.

I have had this experience with every book I've written, watched it become a living creature apart from me. Reading Mailer's words, I realized that I had none of his regret concerning my own new novelI consider The Bone Orchard my best book to date. I feel as if I have done everything I could to bring out what is potentially beautiful in it. Will readers agree? That's always the question.

Look for the book on July 15.