Couch Conversations with William H. New — An Impromptu Interview

By Maryann Henck

CHARACTERS

WILLIAM H. NEW   renowned Cana­di­an lit crit and author (as himself)

INTERVIEWER 1      Sab­ri­na Völz

INTERVIEWER 2      Maria Moss

INTERVIEWER 3      Maryann Henck

 

UNIVERSITY LOBBY—SUMMER—DAY TIME

It’s a hot and humid July after­noon as the mid­day sun floods the win­dows of the lob­by, but all is freez­ing cold inside thanks to a ful­ly func­tion­ing air-con­di­tion­ing sys­tem at the 13th Inter­na­tion­al Con­fer­ence on the Short Sto­ry in Eng­lish at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vien­na. The three inter­view­ers have just left a win­dow­less and chilly lec­ture hall where William H. New gave a simul­ta­ne­ous­ly aca­d­e­m­ic and cre­ative pre­sen­ta­tion that ignit­ed the audience’s imag­i­na­tion. (And, no, it is not an oxy­moron to be a “cre­ative aca­d­e­m­ic.” More about that in the inter­view.) Intrigued by William’s talk, the three inter­view­ers per­suade him to give them an impromp­tu inter­view on the lob­by couch. Dur­ing the cof­fee break between ses­sions, con­fer­ence par­tic­i­pants are milling about, des­per­ate­ly in search of a much need­ed caf­feine jolt and some cook­ies to tide them over until lunch break. Every now and then, cacoph­o­nous cof­fee machines and chat­ter­ing con­fer­ence goers can be heard in the background.

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