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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Our 'unacknowledged' historians


“Increasingly I think of myself as some strange and solitary conductor, introduced to a group of very dynamic musicians who happen to be my characters, and I have no idea how they are going to play together, and I have certainly no idea how I am going to put manners on them.” – Colum McCann
 
Born on this date in 1970, McCann is a native Irishman who now makes his home in New York City where he is Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing in the Master of Fine Arts program at Hunter College.

His work has been published in 35 languages and has appeared in the New Yorker, Esquire, and the Paris Review.  McCann has written 6 novels, including TransAtlantic and the National Book Award-winning Let the Great World Spin.  He also has written 3 collections of short stories, including 2015’s Thirteen Ways of Looking.

McCann said the best writers attempt to become alternative historians.  His own sense of the Great Depression, for example, is guided by the works of E.L. Doctorow  “In a certain way, novelists become unacknowledged historians, because we talk about small, tiny, little anonymous moments that won't necessarily make it into the history books."                    
  “Every first thing is always a miracle," he said. “The first person you fall in love with. The first letter you receive. The first stone you throw. And in my conception of the novel, the letter becomes important. But what's more important is the fact that we need to continue to tell each other stories.”


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