Friday, May 29, 2009

This isn't heaven, it's Iowa

Ethan Canin, author of "America, America" and one of my very favorite writers, is coming to San Francisco on June 2 for a conversation and reading as a fundraiser for the Litquake writers festival. Today's Chron has a Q and A with him, from his home in Iowa City, where he is the F. Wendell Miller professor of English at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.

Canin was one of the founders of the Writer's Grotto in SF, and maintains close ties to the city. It's interesting, though, to read what he has to say about living in the midwest:

Q: When you come back to San Francisco, what changes do you notice? What stays the same?

A: What stays the same is this enviable respect for aesthetics in civic decisions. The waterfront, for example, is beautiful; it keeps getting more beautiful. Also, I applaud some of the public-policy decisions, like public health care and taxing cigarette butts. ... What's changed? Well, we left in the late 1990s, when the dot-com thing was crazy. ... One of the reasons was that I was trying to write a book, and I was on the Internet all day trading stupid stocks. All people were talking about was money. And that's what I don't like about life in the city these days; money has become such a barrier and an object of desire for everyone.

Q: So you prefer Iowa City?

A: Just to give you an example, my dad's dad was a cigar salesman. My mother's father was just poor, just failed. So my dad was lower middle class; my mom was lower class. And they could live in New York, in Manhattan, when they were young. He was a violinist. She was an artist. Now, you can't even live there if you're a plastic surgeon married to an orthopedic surgeon. I have to tell you, living in a college town is the way to go, because you aren't constantly thinking about money.

1 comment:

Lotta K said...

thanks for posting that.