#AWP16 Featured Presenter Q&A with Elizabeth McKenzie
AWP | March 2016
Event Title: A Reading and Conversation with Jonathan Franzen and Elizabeth McKenzie, Sponsored by the Center for Fiction
Description: Jonathan Franzen is the author of Purity and four other novels, including Freedom and The Corrections, and five works of nonfiction and translation, including The Kraus Project and Farther Away. Elizabeth McKenzie is the author of the novel The Portable Veblen, a collection, Stop That Girl, shortlisted for the Story Prize, and the novel MacGregor Tells the World, a Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, and School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and the Pushcart Prize anthology, and has been recorded for NPR's Selected Shorts.
Participants: Jonathan Franzen and Elizabeth McKenzie
Date & Time: Friday, April 1, 2016, 1:30pm – 2:45pm
Q: What are some of the conference events (besides your own) and/or bookfair exhibitors you are most excited to see?
A: There are too many. Just to start, “The Asian Face of War,” “Writer as Editor,” “The Print Journal in a Digital Age,” a panel [titled] “The New Translation Economy,” and another about writers of the central coast called “After Steinbeck and Jeffers.” Then loitering in the rows looking at all the magazines and journals, forgetting what time it is and knowing I’m missing something but unable to tear away.
Q: What book or books that you’ve read over the last year would you most highly recommend?
A: A True Novel by Minae Mizumura and Personal Days by Ed Park.
Q: Given how much time writers spend alone to practice their craft, what do you think are the advantages of creating the large community that exists at the AWP conference?
A: Especially the first time you come, it’s amazing to have the names you’ve seen in the mastheads, the editors you’ve sent things to and maybe corresponded with, right there in front of you, three-dimensional and alive, ready to talk to you, not to mention the writers you’ve read who are also there to talk and listen to—it can be overwhelming. Once you start going regularly there’s a great same time/next year aspect to it, you develop friends who are coming and you know it all year and you don’t have to worry you’ll never see them again.
Q: Outside of the conference, what about Los Angeles are you looking forward to? Are there any Los Angeles activities you would recommend to conference attendees?
A: I read a great article recently in the Daily Beast by Barbara Tennenbaum, “LA is a Great Walking City. Really.” So if there’s time I’d like to take some of her suggestions. And I’ve always wanted to walk through the tunnel of books at the Last Bookstore on Spring Street.
Elizabeth McKenzie is the author of the novel The Portable Veblen; a collection, Stop That Girl, shortlisted for the Story Prize; and the novel MacGregor Tells the World, a Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, and School Library Journal best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and the Pushcart Prize anthology, and has been recorded for NPR's Selected Shorts. She was an NEA/Japan-US Friendship Commission Fellow in 2010. She has taught at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the Stanford Continuing Studies program, and is currently senior editor of the Chicago Quarterly Review and managing editor of Catamaran Literary Reader.