Richard Ford: So. Is it a matter of age?
Bernard Malamud: Experience, and books.
Ford: Probably an observer could make, or could’ve made, the same claim about the contemporary attention span at any given time in history.
Malamud: I like packing a self or two into a few pages, predicating lifetimes.
Ford: How we experience what we experience is a complex business.
Malamud: The mythological analogy is a system of metaphor. The personal prison of entrapment in past experience, guilt, obsession—the somewhat blind or blinded self, in other words.
Ford: I don’t much think about the unseen.
Malamud: They are your fictions.
Ford: They aren’t.
Malamud: Right. [laughs] Astonish me.
Ford: One becomes sensitive to what you might call the poetic qualities—rhythms, repetitions, sonorities, syncopations, the aptness of particular word choices—those qualities.
Malamud: That’s a qualification.
Ford: Sketchy. Maybe.
Malamud: I’m against it, but when it occurs, why waste the experience?
Ford: That’s easy.