“I think in part because this is my first novel, I struggled a bit with the problem of suspension of disbelief. I had this feeling that I needed somehow to justify the piece. It is an improbable story—as many novels are!—and I think I was afraid readers wouldn’t ‘believe’ it. So I think I compensated for that by playing around with various metafictional elements.”
Van Den Berg gives loveliness to the gruesome while opening up the novel’s world to all kinds of ghosts. The real emotional power of the novel, however, beyond the elegance of its language and the precision and momentum of its telling, builds from what ends up being a brutal moment of confrontation.
“The complexities of the human spirit intrigue me. Sometimes we believe we are working towards one goal when in fact we are up to something else entirely. I think of these as shadow rooms in the homes of our souls.”
I had just enough experience working with teenagers to know they’re merciless bullshit detectors. I also remembered how my classmates and I had treated some of our teachers—teachers who would now be my colleagues.
Sometimes, you circle and you circle, and you never find the point. But here is mine. I don’t know who will read my novel. I don’t know in what numbers. To ask these questions is to drive myself insane. So here is a better question to drive myself crazy as the days count down. Why do I read in the first place? Why do you?