Richard Ford Interview: Art is Heavy Lifting

Watch Richard Ford on escaping the ‘southern writer’ label and how writing a novel is satisfyingly hard work: “Why should it be simple? Why shouldn’t it be a clerical nightmare? Why shouldn’t it take four years? That’s what I want it to be – a masterpiece.”

“What’s true in a literary sense… is that the United Stated is not parochial. It’s quite inviting of art and arts to migrate around the country.” Ford grew up in Mississippi, but feels that this does not define him as a writer in spite of what many seem to think: “… people will argue that if you’re a southerner you are in fact born invested with certain kinds of qualities – I think that’s horseshit.” In fact, Ford feels that growing up in Mississippi might as well have caused him to become a lawyer or a Marine Corps officer.

“Art is heavy lifting,” Ford continues, comparing writing to his first experience with art – traditional southern blues, which he found to be a very physical thing. In continuation of this, putting hard work and several years into a book is a natural part of the way he works: “For me to organize all this material is very much like heavy lifting. It’s very physical. I’m sort of a physical person much more than a mental person.”

Richard Ford (b. 1944) is an American novelist and short story writer. Among his best-known works are his short story collection ‘Rock Springs’ (1987), the novel ‘Canada’ (2012) as well as the novel ‘The Sportswriter’ (1986) (proclaimed by Time Magazine to be one of the 100 best novels written in English) and its sequels ‘Independence Day’ (1995), ‘The Lay of the Land’ (2006) and ‘Let Me Be Frank With You’ (finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction – 2014), all featuring Frank Bascombe. Ford is the recipient of several prestigious awards such as the 2013 Prix Femina Étranger (for ‘Canada’), 2001 PEN/Malamud Award for excellence in short fiction, the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award (for ‘Independence Day’) and the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (for ‘Independence Day’).

Richard Ford was interviewed by Synne Rifbjerg at the Louisiana Literature festival at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark in August 2015.

Camera: Jakob Solbakken
Edited by: Klaus Elmer
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2016

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