As a Canadian writer, do you feel more affinity with Scottish, Celtic, or American writers than with the English?
Well, no. Rather disappointingly, no. I’m very interested in the writing that goes on in Scotland and indeed in all the Celtic countries and of course in Ireland. I do not respond quite so immediately and warmly to writers in the United States, because their concerns are different from mine and their approach to them is different from mine. They seem to be infinitely concerned with very subtle details of feeling and life. I find this exemplified, for instance, in many stories in The New Yorker where whether the family will have pumpkin pie or something else on Thanksgiving Day is a decision with infinite psychological and sexual repercussions. I take this quite seriously. I admire their subtlety—but I get so sick of it. I wish they would deal with larger themes.
I hope you don’t think New Yorker writers are representative of American culture across the board.
Perhaps not. I just see their stories every week because I’ve been taking the magazine forever and I haven’t the wits to stop.