I FIRST SET FOOT on European soil–if we include Britain as a European country, which most Americans don’t–when I was twenty-three years old. I stayed a week, traveling around England and Scotland, visiting sites like Oxford and Coventry and Shakespeare’s home in Stratford-on-Avon, the castle of Mary Queen of Scots and Loch Ness and then Glen Coe, where my ancestors had been massacred. I went to pubs and drank lots of beer and ate lots of awful food, I rented a car and drove in the wrong lane, and in general tried to soak up as much atmosphere as I could, like any tourist. The book I was reading was George Orwell’s Road to Wigan Pier, and I liked to believe it still had some significance, it had something to say about the England I was seeing.
It’s a thrill to be asked for a recipe for The Great American Writers’ Cookbook. I’m honored to be among such giants as Mr. Cheever and Miss Welty. I hope this’ll do:
Flannery O’Connor Chili
THE SUCCESSFUL, mostly non-violent protests against the World Trade Organization this week surprised only those Americans who have the luxury of avoiding all forms of media. For weeks before the fateful demonstrations, anyone who saw the news on TV, heard it on the radio or read it in the paper knew that this was going to be the Battle in Seattle.
I LIKE A PLOTTED NOVEL as much as if not more than the next person–obviously, or I wouldn’t have written so many of them. No reader, I hope, is above the pleasures of characters on collision courses, fast-ratcheting rising action and exciting climaxes. And there’s no reason why a tightly plotted book can’t be deep and thoughtful, though it’s hard to pull off. But sometimes I prefer to settle down with a quieter, more intimate book, just as, writing, I’m drawn, after passages of great urgency, to moments of stillness.
WHILE THE NASDAQ responded by falling more than 600 points, most people here just shrugged at the defeat of Microsoft on anti-trust charges. Everyone knows Microsoft has worked hard to create their monopoly, and everyone knows that the decision–like the fines the government levies against corporate polluters–won’t put even the littlest dent in Bill Gates’s wallet.