Brian Hall is the author of three novels: The Saskiad (1997), I Should Be Extremely Happy in Your Company (2003), his acclaimed story of the Lewis and Clark expedition, Fall of Frost (2008), about the life of Robert Frost; as well as three works of nonfiction.
His journalism has appeared in publications such as Time, The New Yorker, and The New York Times Magazine. He lives in Ithaca, New York.
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Brian Hall discusses his novel Fall of Frost
Your relationship with the figure of Robert Frost is one of deep attachment mixed with some ambivalence. Can you talk about what first drew you to Frost? What specifically appealed to you about his poetry?
I've always preferred poetry that has a good deal of surface lucidity. It's hard to write poetry of this variety that feels weighty as well as good, because it's really the thought that counts; that, and a good ear. You can't hide behind an elaborate form or allusive obscurity. Perhaps this sort of poetry appeals to me because it's closest to being a purified and heightened form of what I strive to create in my prose: concision, wit, insight, close listening, and an awareness of the multiple meanings of every word you use. Frost was fantastically good at hearing how common words fight with each other and with themselves, tugging in several directions toward different goals. He also was blessed (in his art, anyway) with an uncommonly large store of "negative capability," which happens to be the attribute of artists that I most admire.
I was drawn to write about Frost when I came across a brief mention of his trip to the U.S.S.R. to meet with Khrushchev. I hadn't ...
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