Lynne Tillman


An Interview with Lynne Tillman, by Brian Gresko

Sentence connoisseurs hold Lynne Tillman in high regard. A virtuosic stylist, Tillman writes sentences that weave and twist, sometimes telescoping upon themselves such that a reader ends up in unexpected territory or finds that the end of the construction somehow contradicts the beginning. They come so close to capturing the quick pulse and spiraling nature of thought that they seem to lift off the page and speak—and what stories they tell. Tillman’s inquisitive, neurotic characters hold forth on music, politics, art, and culture while dropping hints about frustrated desires and past traumas, and these clues gradually congeal into a narrative. In Tillman’s most recent novel, American Genius, A Comedy, as the protagonist ruminates at length on topics from the Manson murders to skin diseases, a mystery of sorts unfolds regarding her setting—an ashram, an artists’ retreat, or a mental institution, it’s not entirely clear—her companions, and past wounds caused by her mother and a cat. From her first novel, Haunted Houses—reissued by Red Lemonade along with four of her other novels—to last year’s collection, Someday This Will Be Funny, Tillman has explored how the mind creates and understands history both personal and cultural. Slice spoke to Tillman in hopes of uncovering the seeds of inspiration for her unique work. It turns out that the author’s tastes—from Marilyn Monroe to Michel Foucault—are as wide-ranging as those of her characters.

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