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Interview: David Lynn

David H. Lynn is the author of three collections

of short stories, Year of Fire, Fortune Telling,

and Children of God. He is also the author of

Wrestling with Gabriel, a novel, and The Hero's

Tale: Narrators in the Early Modern Novel, a

critical study. The Editor Emeritus of The Kenyon

Review and Professor Emeritus of English at

Kenyon college, he received the O. Henry Award

in 2016 for his short story, “Divergence.” His recently published a memoir, REBUILDING THE GOAT WALK.

What was the original inspiration for Rebuilding The Goat Walk?

“I'd been working on a series of memoir-essays about my relationship with Devon for over ten years. The terrible storms in 2014 that destroyed the Goat Walk, an iconic feature of life in the small town of Topsham, really galvanized me to move forward on this in terms of climate change.”

What was the process of writing it like? How long did it take? What was the biggest challenge?

“As long as I was focused on shorter essays, I could build them around individual, specific, themes or events. But in attempting to create a larger project, a book or eco-memoir as I've come to think of it, I needed a narrative spine, something the equivalent of a plot in fiction, that would tie the entire thing together and move it forward. So a big challenge was cutting out a lot of material--which I was attached to--that wasn't necessary to this central story. That was hard. And I'd suggest it's an important lesson for younger writers--to keep only what's absolutely necessary.”

In a sentence, how would you describe Rebuilding The Goat Walk?  

“I'd say it's about my 50-year relationship with a place that I came to know and love deeply over that time, with a number of vivid moments in conversation with each other, all shaped by my growing awareness of the profound threat of rising seas and ever-fiercer storms.”

What was the most surprising thing you learned about yourself through the writing of this memoir? 

“That so much of this still feels recent, part of my "present memory," and yet, 50 years on . . . .”

What advice would you give to someone else trying to write a memoir?

“Always remember your audience! You've got to be writing about something that matters and that will interest people other than your family and friends.”

To read my first interview with David Lynn, click this link:

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