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"What About the Baby?": Alice McDermott on the craft of fiction

Alice McDermott by Beowulf Sheehan
(Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan)
Alice McDermott is the author of eight novels, three of them finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. She lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

(This conversation originally aired October 15, 2021)

Welcome to this archive edition of Midday. Today, we revisit a conversation host Tom Hall had this past fall with the acclaimed author, Alice McDermott. She is the winner of a National Book Award. Three of her novels have been finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and she’s garnered many other prizes and accolades in a career that has spanned 40 years, and counting.

WhatAbouttheBaby_McDermott cover2.jpg
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux/MacMillan Pub.

Alice McDermott is an insightful and brilliant observer of the passing parade, and her prose is simply a delight to encounter. Books like Charming Billy, After This, Someone, or her most recent novel, The Ninth Hour have afforded me some of the most enjoyable, enlightening and wonderful experiences of my reading life.

Alice McDermott has long been revered as a teacher of writing as well, serving for many years on the faculties of theJohns Hopkins Writing Seminars and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her latest book is a work of non-fiction, in which she proffers what might be dubbed a Bill of Rights for readers, and a How-To Guide for writers. It is a celebration of great writing, and an investigation into what makes great writing, great.

It’s called What About the Baby?: Some Thoughts on the Art of Fiction. Alice McDermott joined us on our digital line from her home in Bethesda, Maryland.

(Because our conversation was recorded earlier, we aren’t able to take any calls or comments today.)

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