2. Vincent Francone: Why writers should read Flann O’Brien (15 April 2023)

Toby and a Chicago writer discuss how Flann inspires him. They explore the soft lunacy of books, the uses of bureaucratic jargon and the life of moonlighting writers.

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Toby: So this episode we’re talking about why writers should read Flann O’Brien. I’m joined by a writer – he’s not just a writer. We’ll get to that: Vincent Francone. I really enjoyed getting to grips of Vince’s work. His memoir Like a Dog, and a brilliant book of short essays about book collecting and other very Flann O’Brien topics, The Soft Lunacy. He’s a winner of the 2009 Illinois Emerging Writers Competition. His work has appeared in many print and web journals. He teaches composition has hosted a podcast called Drinking and Talking. He’s the editor of an anthology of Chicago writing, Open Heart Chicago and the literary journal Jabber, and you can find out more about all of that at vincentfrancone.com.

So, Vince, there is a pretty funny episode in The Soft Lunacy, actually, about what I just tried to do, which is, like, write a bio’ – like have a ‘bio’ – and how they change over time from being incredibly padded out and pretentious at the beginning to getting stripped down and honed. So how did I do with your bio, that now no longer contains any reference to poblano peppers or jalapeños. Did I do a good job? What did I miss?

Vince: Out. Nothing. Actually, you made me sound better than I think I’m able to when I write my bios, because they’re weird writing bios. And I think that’s why emerging writers tend to write them very silly because maybe they’re young and also they lack a lot of credits. So to make up for that, they kind of write quirky things about themselves, which is what I was writing about in the book, and definitely mine was no exception. And then you kind of start to grow older and then you trim it and make it more serious. And they could either be too sort of bombastic and full of themselves, or they could be too sort of like silly, so it’s hard to strike a balance. I think you did a very good job in sort of summing me up and actually making me sound more impressive than I think of myself. So thank you.

Toby: Of course, I mean, it makes the podcast sound more impressive, the more impressive you sound.


Vince: Happy to help.

Toby: So some of our listeners may be totally new to Vince Francone. They might also be totally new to Flann O’Brien, aka Myles na gCopaleen, or Myles, aka Brian O’Nolan, etc. This might seem a bit unfair, but would you mind giving me your thumbnail sketch of this writer Flann O’Brien and his major work?

Vince: Sure. Yeah, I’ll do my best, I mean, skipping the official biography. Since we’re on the subject of biographies, I’ll simply say that Flann O’Brien, as he’s commonly referred to now because as you pointed out is one of the pseudonyms for the man Brian O’Nolan, which is also his English name. I know his Irish – is I’m probably going to butcher it. It’s Brian Ó Nuallán, I think.

Toby: Good. That was good. Yeah.

Vince: Okay. I was worried because I have no skill in that regard, so I didn’t want to completely offend any Irish speakers out there. Brian O’Nolan published his first novel, At Swim-Two-Birds, under the pen name Flann O’Brien. And that was just one of many. But it’s the one that the publishing world, I guess, is attached to him forever more. So that’s what we refer to Flann. But his first book was published in the late 1930s, right as World War II broke out, which is one of my favourite facts about him, which is why At Swim-Two-Birds was kind of not a very successful novel. I think the warehouse that was storing copies in London got bombed.

So there was always this joke Flann made about how Hitler was so offended by the book that he started World War II. When I think of the thumbnail sketch that I think of it’s like this sort of categorizes a lot of O’Brien’s literary fame as it was a lot of failure, I think he would regard as failure a lot of happenstance that kind of made things difficult. A lot of possibly subconscious self-sabotage.

But he managed to crank out a couple of novels, of which two of which are usually considered to be masterpieces, which is At Swim-Two-Birds, and The Third Policeman, his book in Irish, which is translated as The Poor Mouth I think it’s An Béal Bocht or something – I’ve probably screwed that up, too – Is also considered to be another great one.

And then he published what I would consider to be two lesser but still very interesting works as well. A lot of short stories, plays snippets a column called the Cruiskeen Lawn under the pen name Myles na gCopaleen that ran for years, I can’t even fathom how long that thing ran. And just sort of a very strange, versatile man of letters, and one of the stranger, I think, literary characters of European 20th century writing.

Toby: That’s an awesome introduction and a real race through what is quite a prodigious career. He’s definitely one of these writers that I guess they all are to a certain extent, but associated with that physicality of manuscripts and losing them and getting the manuscripts being blown up by, bombed or one story he told. About story he told about The Third Policemen is that he was driving around the western coast of Ireland with the boot of his car open and it accidentally blew out, page by page, into the Atlantic, which I love.

Vince: That is one of my favourite stories. And I just want to ask real quick sorry if I’m interrupting is I first read that story years ago and, I don’t know, some biography or something that that was a sort of, like, story he made up about losing the manuscript when in reality. It just had gotten rejected and he just put it in the drawer. But I don’t know if you’ve ever read the book or seen the movie version of Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys, but that literally happens to the character. It just blows out of – like I think there’s a car door open and there’s like an 1,100 page manuscript flies out into the wind and is lost. And I remember thinking, like, I saw that before I knew the Flann story. But I’m like, I don’t know if Chabon was doing an homage to O’Brien there that or not, but it’s kind of perfect.

Toby: That is perfect.

Vince: Yeah. There’s a thing about Flann O’Brien, I mean, we might get to this, but it occurred to me right when you were saying that, that there’s a lot of oddity in his fiction that if you read his biography or you read little snippets of his biography and his life story maybe aren’t so odd. And I’m thinking about the fact that he got in like a legendary amount of car wrecks driving around Dublin. He was like the worst driver in Dublin, they said. And got in like over a dozen car accidents. And it’s just one of those details that I kind of love because it seems like something from The Third Policeman that there was somebody who would hold like, Dublin’s record for car wrecks or something.

Toby: Yeah, the automotive aspect of Van O’Brien probably does deserve more attention. There’s also a story told by one of these anecdotalist first generation of people remembering Flan that he once played a practical joke on the police by taking the engine out of a car sitting like parked up in a major street drinking a bottle of whiskey and just getting out of his mind drunk, just so that when the police came, he could cackle at them and point out that there was no engine in the car, so he couldn’t drive.

Vince: That’s perfect. That’s great.

Toby: Just goes on and on. That’s a topic that needs to be explored. Flann and driving. We need to put Flann and steam trains to one side and Flann and the automotive, that sounds good.

Vince: This is a topic. Yeah, exactly.

Toby: This is it. We’re already breaking the ground here. This is good stuff.

Vince: I love it. I think the people that I know who love Flann and I don’t frankly know a lot of them, I mean, most of the people that I know who are Flann fans, I’ve met through the internet. It’s not like I know them too well personally, but like, the ones that I do know that I’ve met have a kind of weird, rabid devotion to the books. And I think part of it is they like the underdog in a weird way. And I think they see Flann as being kind of not like a lesser writer, but maybe a slightly more ignored writer who is doing equally as interesting things as a lot of these other names that do sort of get mentioned and should be mentioned again, like Joyce and Beckett are heroes.

But it’s sort of Flann is harder to describe even now when thinking about why should writers read Flann? It’s tricky to put that to pin down, because if you ask me, why should a writer read Joyce, it seems like people always have a stock of answers to go to. It’s like, oh, well, he did this amazing thing with Ulysses. He took one day and made into this giant epic. And all the other things that people sing, the praises they sing when they talk about Joyce or even Finnegans Wake, which is a brilliant book because of what it does to language and how just absolutely inventive it is. And it’s just how unbelievably strange a book something like that is.

And then same thing with Beckett. It’s like, you can look at him as being on the opposite end of the spectrum, but these sort of structural or craft discussions are inherent to those writers, and I think they’ve been said a lot. It’s harder to really nail down what’s so interesting about Flann O’Brien, and I think it’s because he maybe produced fewer works in some regard. I mean, Joyce produced, I guess, as many, if not fewer books, really, but they seem to be so big, and they loom so large, and a book like The Third Policeman is just tricky to sort of recommend to people. When people say: why should I read this book? Like, what’s so great about it? Sometimes I’m stumped for an answer besides, like, I just don’t think I’ve read anything quite like it. It’s just got a tonal perfection to it. And it’s just such a ridiculous story that the further you go into it, like the further you’re going into this world, it’s very much like Finnegans Wake, if you’ve read that, where it’s just like the further you get into the book, the more you have to just abandon what you expect a book to do and let it do this thing that’s very logical and organic to this specific text and no other.

And I just can’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to read a book like that, especially if they’re a writer. Because the things that I get from these books and I can’t write like these people that I love, but what I get from them is this idea of, well, we can really do anything. I mean, if you can pull it off, you can explore the strangest idea you have or the most innovative, or, shall we say, technically challenging thing that you might feel up to, and why not try it?

And even if it’s a flop, it’s your flop, and you don’t have to publish it. There’s something you get from that. There’s definitely, like, a sense of craft and learning and pushing yourself. And I think I get when I tried to consciously imitate people like Flann O’Brien and Joyce and Beckett, and I’ll never pull it off because I’m not those writers and I never could be. But I think definitely Flann O’Brien got me out of a box where – not to sort of talk too much about my own books – but the first one was very much a straightforward book that I wrote in a very straightforward, realist manner. And the second book is weird and I could have never been able to successfully figure out how to market it because it is kind of a mishmash of a lot of things going on. It’s separate pieces that all kind of fall under a theme. And the stranger elements in it are basically I mean, I could name my influences and he would be up there. Flann O’Brien is one of them because it’s like, why don’t I do something this goofy? Why don’t I take a chance and write a little vignette? That’s sort of absurd. And I think it’s reading people like Flann O’Brien has gotten me out of a certain box that I was in. So I’ll always try to do things that are above my skill level and probably fail. But when I do manage to sort of have a nugget of something that comes out of it, that’s useful, and I could turn into something else or develop that’s only through reading widely and reading things that are as innovative as The Third Policeman and At Swim-Two-Birds, if that makes any sense.

Toby: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I do want to talk more about your own work and how you put it brilliant here, already how Flann has helped to unlock certain aspects you pursue. So in this odd book that we’re talking about, if you don’t mind me calling it that, the Soft, this collection of vignettes, which is a fantastic book, you say that you admit or say I don’t know the right verb here you own 20 free copies of Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita in multiple languages, talk about Italo Calvino, Kathy Acker, Jorge Borges and Joyce, of course. So clearly this idea of books that are about books matters to you and I think just kind of jumps out of the book. There’s something about even your choice of topic that is I wouldn’t say relies upon that’s not the right word, but it’s certainly galvanized by it. So I think of the materiality of books in At Swim-Two-Birds, where the author character Dermot Trellis, as a good patriot, will only read books that have green covers and where the construction and the stage of writing is seen to be critical for the action of the novel. You have stories about – which I found hilarious – about riding a bookcase like a toboggan down a stairwell, the pain of carting around oversized books, or even hiding an engagement ring in Medbh McGuckian’s The Book of the Angel. So this materiality of books is important to you and you’re saying you kind of get that from Flann, or Flann was a part of that, certainly.

Vince: I mean, the Bulgakov thing: he’s another writer that I kind of obsessed over when I read. The Master and Margarita is just sort of the right place at the right time. And I don’t know why I started collecting so many copies of that book. I think it’s just that I had one copy that I liked, but that’s also a book that’s translated from Russian to English, so I don’t read Russian.

So I started collecting different translations because somebody immediately, when you tell them, like, oh, this is fantastic book, and you tell them what it is and if it’s translated, they’ll go, somebody in your life will say, well, that’s a shit translation. You need to find this translation, it’s better. And so then immediately you’re buying a second copy and then it just sort of built from that. And now I have at this point probably up to 26 or 27 now. I think I’ve added a few since I wrote The Soft Lunacy. And for the record, I now also have at least seven copiesof At Swim and probably at least four or five of The Third Policeman. So I’ve extended it to the point where I’m now collecting different editions with different covers and so forth of books, if I love the book. So I was in Dublin a few years ago and there was a special edition of it, At Swim, so of course I bought it.

But I think there’s something about I mean, the materiality of books which is definitely interesting when I’m thinking about that early story, earlier story we were talking about of how, like, The Third Policeman manuscript was sort of just put in a drawer. But Flann O’Brien lied and said that it flew out the trunk of his car. And it’s not all that different in the sense of Bulgakov, who also didn’t get published until after his death, probably around the same year, I think somewhere around 1966 or 67, as The Third Policeman.

So both those books were published posthumously by the widows of these writers. And famously, in Bulgakov’s book, the writer character, the Master, burns his manuscript and then the devil brings it back to life because, he says, manuscripts don’t burn. So there’s this theme of destroying my work, which is something that Bulgakov actually did. He destroyed and burnt the first draft of The Master and Margarita and then he rewrote it later. So there’s this idea, I think, of, like, that I was trying to really touch on with The Soft Lunacy, which is that books have a certain permanence. And I think I even said, like, friends come and go, but the books will always be there. And even if I try to get rid of them, I can’t seem to get rid of them. I always accumulate more and there’s more in my apartment than I’ll ever read. And that’s just going to be the way it is, but there’s a certain weird sort of strange safety. It is a soft lunacy. It’s a sort of weird feeling of comfort that you get surrounding yourself with these texts. And I think it’s because there’s something that I’ve always liked about physical media, even though I love podcasts and streaming and all that other stuff. Like, I still collect things because I like them.

And I don’t know if there’s necessarily a Flann connection around that, but I think you’re right to point out the examples that you did. I mean, there’s the Trellis preference for green covered books. And the idea of the whole motivation for the murder in The Third Policeman is get money to publish a ridiculous book. So there is this kind of like I mean, the justification for an immoral evil action is immediately justified because, well, it’s going to give birth to this important philosophical text. And there’s something kind of about that that’s hilarious, but also not that strange if you think about the things that people have done, not just for books, but just for all material things. And I think books are just as they’re always held up as these beautiful holy objects that we should cherish and we should all read. And I agree. But at the same time, there is a certain weird kind of material lust for them that sometimes gets a little crazy. There’s a book about a book thief. A book called The Man Who Loved Books Too Much. It’s about a person in the States who was stealing rare books, and when he was caught, his justification was, well, how else am I going to get these books? I don’t have money. So that justified him committing, like, major felonies. And I don’t know, maybe there’s a certain fetishistic – aspect to book collecting. And I think Flann is right for that.

Toby: Yeah, he’s good on this. You might call it like the pathology of reading and books, you know, the kind of illness involved in it. But it’s also a fetish that unlocks some kind of magical power. I mean, I find that I’m sure you’re the same. One of the reasons my books are often so disorganized is I intentionally surround myself with the books of whatever I’m working on. It just feels better to know they’re there. I mean, for practical reasons, you can reach and consult them. But sometimes knowing that you have a book – you have this example in your book – that you might never read it, you might never even touch it, but because it’s there, you know you can on some level, even though you know you’re not going to, but you want it there. So it has a presence. And I think that relates to your idea of the text of a book returning when it’s burned, because that describes At Swim-Two-Birds, right? It’s here the book is here, but it’s kind of burned inside itself, which is similar – it’s amazing the parallels between Bulgakov and At Swim – it’s a bit like Borges as well, it’s just a bizarre parallelism between what’s going on in their work.

Vince: I didn’t even think of that. But, yeah, it’s very I mean, all the writers that I sort of name checked and all the ones you mentioned, they are very like a lot of the books do pop up as themes, especially in Borehes. He was endlessly writing about that. And Kathy Acker, where she was sort of repurposing classics like she has books like Don Quixote and Great Expectations where she’s sort of just basically stealing titles and riffing off of the characters in these really outrageous ways. And even Calvino, I think, did that to a certain extent. And clearly Joyce was not above that as well. I think there’s that whole idea of the anxiety of influence that Bloom mentioned. Not Leopold Bloom, but Harold Bloom, the critic, as being like: if you exist after Shakespeare or you have that looming over you forever kind of we were talking about earlier. I think a lot of these writers have just sort of embraced it, in a way or manufactured kind of torn up these influences and repurposed them in that way. And I think Flann is definitely doing that in a lot of his works, too, now that you point that out.

Toby: Bureaucratic language is clearly really important to Flann and he does some wonderful things with it. What’s your take on bureaucracy and bureaucratic language and fan?

Vince: It’s something in his work that I’ve always been very attracted to. Again, I think it stems from I used to work for lawyers for about a long time, actually from about 2000 to 2009. Yeah, maybe 9, 10 years I worked for lawyers. And if you work for lawyers, you get very familiar with a certain kind of English that’s tortured and inelegant, yet apparently necessary. And that’s very much a kind of bureaucratic language that I think is just so dreadful. But if you can find a way, as a creative writer to do something with that kind of clinical, everyday language of the office place or whatever discipline you’re working in, you’re onto something. I always find that to be very funny because it’s sort of the whole thing about they say about again, we’re going back to the idea of tradition of Irish writing.

But the whole joke is that the Irish, their ultimate revenge on the English was to do more with their language than the English ever could by writing the best pieces of literature ever composed in the English language. Which, depending on who you ask, might be their opinion. But we’re talking a lot about Irish writers. Flann is definitely one. I think there’s something to that. Like the legendary felicity of language that the Irish employ, whether that’s reductive stereotype or not, is something that’s notable in a lot of these writers and poets especially. And I think a lot of that repurposing of, in that case, we would say, like an oppressor’s language is fascinating. And I think in the workplace or in the sort of worlds of bureaucratic offices and so forth, I think it clearly was an influence on Flann because, yeah, he was working as a civil servant and apparently a successful one, even though, I think towards the end of his career, he was mostly at the pub, they say…

Toby: … not necessarily a barrier to being successful civil servant…

Vince: No, I mean, I’m from Chicago where Aldermen would sit at the bar all day and hold court. So it’s not unheard of. But, yeah, I think there’s something about letting that language, instead of, I guess, rebelling against the kind of coldness and clunkiness of some of that, you find a way to incorporate it in ways that are creative or funny. You’re really on to something.

When I was in grad school, I had to write a poem where one of my teachers actually assigned that as an assignment. She’s like, Whatever you do for a living, because it was mostly adult students, it’s like, think if you can find a way of taking jargon or buzzwords that are annoying and turning it into poetry. And she had us read Paul Muldoon’s Symposium, where he uses clichés and he reverses them and it’s like Hair of the Dog is a friend indeed, and all those kind of funny lines. And so I did. I wrote a poem, a love poem, in legalese. It’s, like, hilarious to think of how would lawyers contractually try to court each other in the word court? There’s a pun there. So there’s ways to do all of that that I think can be very fun. And I absolutely have to assume that a lot of the actual career of Flann O’Brien was what he did for a day to day for a living, had to infect it.

Toby: Now, the performativity of it, of making this language alive again, making it work in a different way, is just brilliant and not treating it as something to be derided or escaped from, but cliché and bureaucratic repetitive language to be embraced as a creative resource, which is wonderful. The other thing I think is important just to round off on this point is Flann was indeed, he wasn’t a working writer in a certain way. He was a working writer, in a sense. Towards the end of his life, he was making all his money from writing and his kind of relatively small civil service pension. But for much of a career, especially the early career, he was moonlighting as a writer. He was producing a prodigious amount of journalism. In evenings and weekends, he did that thing. And that’s common to a lot of his generation. That, for me, has always been something that I’ve found compelling about Flann because one of the most intimidating ideas to grapple with for any writer is you see these professionals, these professional intellectuals, whether they’re academic or whether they’re novelists, that just seem to make money just by writing. And everyone else is just like slapping away at some terrible, boring job to get by. Or maybe not so terrible, not so boring. Maybe it’s a genuine profession that’s really fun and interesting.

And then there’s this guilt that comes with it, this strange guilt, like, why have I not made it enough just to be paid to write? Why do I still have to do this job? And it’s not only Flann doesn’t only he not only does he do that thing of living a life and supporting, you know, a big family, but he embraces it as a resource. Like, the two things flow into each other really, really well, which I love.

Vince: It’s definitely a thing that every writer that I know has to kind of reckon with, which is the day job. And it’s sort of even the writers I know who most of them end up working in academia. I mean, we go into that. I’m one of the ones who ends up teaching composition, which I love. But at the same time it’s not what most people who get their MFAs and want to be writers, they pretty much know that they’re going to end up teaching creative writing classes of what they aim for. Because you’re built into that career track like the ideas that you are a writer of novels or poems or stories. And so you teach these classes and you’re also writing, and you’re talking about writing, and it’s very much like interrelated, whereas comp teachers: we basically were teaching kids to write essays, which is not exactly the same thing. So there’s always this feeling of like, well, I didn’t quite land the dream job that’s associated with being a writer. I’m still at the basement of the ivory tower office.

And then there’s some writers I know who have those jobs, and they live these lives and they do these amazing things, and I’m like, wow, they go on research leave and they go fly over the world and do these amazing things. And I don’t do that. I’m like, what am I doing wrong? Or my friends who make – the few friends I know who make – their living solely by their writing: most of them write comics these days or graphic novels, and they just grind out stories and scripts and things like that. So it’s really hard to be a working writer unless you’re really that successful. And I think I only know really one novelist who’s that successful. And I only sort of know them in passing. It’s like they’re not a lot of us. So I think there was a time, though, where it felt like you maybe, could just make a living on your writing if you were the right kind of writer or you hit the right vein or something like that. And for whatever reason, that wasn’t Flann. He had to have that job for a long time.

But then again, the other people that were mentioning, you know, in in this conversation, all had either a day job or they struggled. I mean, like, the great Joyce, I mean, was broke the whole time. He wasn’t you know, he’s considered to be to have written, like, what many people say is the greatest novel in the English language of the 20th century, possibly ever. And yet he made whatever money he made, he just spent it right away. He was never in good financial place, and I think that was a conscious decision. And Flann didn’t have the luxury of that because even though Joyce had a family to support, not as big as Flann, who had all those siblings to take care of. So sometimes there’s something I think I’ve always been very attractive to that kind of writer, too, where it’s just like, you’ve had to work some terrible jobs, and maybe you still continue to work some terrible jobs, but you go home and you do your work, or you find a time to carve it out. And there’s something I’ve always thought was very admirable about that. That might just be me with a chip on my shoulder because I like my job now, but it’s only fairly recently I’ve entered into it. Most of my life, I was basically working terrible jobs that I hated, never really making enough money, and then sort of scraping by and then working on my wayward stories to some varying degrees of success.

Toby: Your time in some basement annex of the Postal Service will never leave me, Vince.

Vince: Oh, thanks. Yeah. That’s nice of you to say nice things, by the way, about these, and I appreciate you reading them, but yeah, that job was yeah, I don’t think it’ll ever leave me either. It was so horrible.

Toby: So just to round this discussion off, I’ve asked you this question about five times now. I mean, it’s kind of the point of what I’m trying to do here.. say I’m a writer who hasn’t read Flann O’Brien. Why should I do it?

Vince: The easiest or simplest answer I can give is just to understand the possibilities of the novel and what it can do, because there have been innovations before, an innovation since to the form, since Flann O’Brien was publishing. But I think everyone who kind of does something unique to the novel deserves to be read, and Flann O’Brien absolutely belongs in that list.

At Swim-Two-Birds alone, I think, is structurally innovative, to the point where I’ve recommended that book to people and they’ve read it and they’ve liked it, and some have said I liked it, but I didn’t quite get it, because I didn’t have enough of a background, I think, to understand a lot of what was going on. But I think what people get from that, regardless of how much independent study they do into Irish mythology and so forth, is important because it’s sort of structurally innovative in a way that I don’t think every book is. And same thing with The Third Policeman. I love going back and rereading it and thinking like the things he was doing with the footnotes in that book … I don’t know if he was the first to do that, but I do know that people like David Foster Wallace gets a lot of credit for that in the postmodernist discussions. And I’m like, Flann was doing it years before, like decades before. It just feels like little things like that that are structurally innovative are more than enough justification to look at his work.

So just like with Borges or Calvino or any of the people we’re discussing, like, Flann belongs in that group for that reason. But in addition to that, you should read them because the books, aside from just being structurally or formally innovative, are nothing but fun. I mean, I’m all for admiring books that I think do interesting things, but if that’s all they’re doing, that’s only going to engage me so far. But Flann O’Brien is able to consistently be innovative, and every book feels different in that regard.

They’re all very strange and very different, but yet he maintains a kind of, as we discussed thoroughly today, a kind of detached kind of humor, a kind of tone that I think is just difficult for me to even put like a button on and describe it. But I don’t know any other writer like that who pulls it off so well, who can kind of adopt different, literally personas in his pseudonyms and even sometimes in his writing styles that I think are still very much uniquely of a man.

So I would absolutely recommend reading Flann for a lot of reasons. The least among them for a writer would be just to sort of understand again what a novel can do and what it can be. Because as I said earlier, that was very informative for me, just like reading a lot of these sort of innovative writers, you can do these things. You can break with format. You can let your ideas kind of be a little bit more wild. And I think especially and I hate to say to completely denigrate creative writing programs, but I was in them, and I know people have been in them, and I know that they’re a lot more homogeneous than I think they are. But sometimes I worry that a lot of especially American creative writing programs are trying to get people to write a certain way. And that’s great. That’s fantastic. It’s not a bad way necessarily, but you should read things outside of what you were assigned in those classes and find out that not every story needs to be like Raymond Carver story, which are fantastic, and you should read those as well. But Flann O’Brien is going to throw some anarchy into the mix that I think is going to be incredibly informative for writers.

Toby: That’s great. That’s a really wonderful summation of the answers that question so decisively in such a broadly applicable way. So that’s really awesome. Thank you so much. So we’ll call it there. Thank you so much for being on the podcast, Vincent Francone. Vincentfrancone.com is where you can find out more as well as just Googling it. I definitely recommend checking out that collection of essays we’ve been referring to throughout The Soft Lunacy. So thank you so much for being on the podcast, Vince.

Vince: Thank you so much for having me. This is so much fun.

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