Tony Earley is the Samuel Milton Fleming Chair in English at Vanderbilt. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Alabama and has taught at Vanderbilt since 1997. He has been named one of the "twenty best young fiction writers in America" by The New Yorker and one of the "Best of Young American Novelists" by Granta.
His books include a collection of short storeis, Here We Are in Paradise: Stories (1994); a novel, Jim the Boy (2002); and a collection of personal essays, Somehow Form a Family: Stories That Are Mostly True (2001). His stories have also appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, Esquire, and Best American Short Stories. His work has been widely anthologized as well as translated into a number of different languages.
At Vanderbilt, he teaches beginning, intermediate, and advanced fiction workshops as well as a seminar on Hemingway and American fiction.
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An interview with Tony Earley, before the publication of Jim The Boy (2000)
Who and what are your influences?
My wife has pointed out that everyone in my family knows how to tell a story. Apparently, this isn't true for all families. So I guess my family was my earliest and probably most profound influence. That I was able to write about the Depression without having to do a lot of research is because a large part of my family's story stockpile is about life during that time. I feel like I've almost lived in it myself. When my grandmother talks about the way things were, I can almost see it.
The influence other writers have had on me is harder to track. I've read thousands of books, and I probably learned something from all of them. But how do you figure out what? My two favorite books, though, My Antonia and Death Comes for the Archbishop, are both by Willa Cather. I don't know if Cather's had the greatest influence on me, but she's the one writer whose influence I would most hate to be without.
Do you consider yourself to be a Southern writer? Do you identify more with the grand tradition of Southern literature or with today's young literary writers?
I consider myself a southern writer ...
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