with Mary Ruefle
The last thing that made you smile
The last thing that made me smile was the sound my dog made eating a cheese puff.
If I told you a secret, it wouldn’t be a secret, secrets are kept things; unkept they become something else; thus there is no such thing as “telling a secret”.
The last thing you wrote
The last thing I wrote (and by hand) was a thank-you note for a snowdrop catalogue. I wrote it this morning. The catalogue is handmade and exquisite and I plan on erasing it, but I didn’t mention that to the man I thanked for sending me the catalogue—perhaps that is a secret!
Your favourite city
In general I hate cities, whenever I am in one I am always anxious that I will never get out. Yet several cities I have visited stay in my mind for very pleasant reasons—San Francisco in the 1970s, walking through a courtyard with the smell of gardenias in the air; a fantastic antique store in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where the owner didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Slovenian, yet we communicated with passion by picking up very small, odd objects, all the while expressing mutual excitement with our eyes and hands; Wellington, New Zealand, where I found the best movie theatre I have ever been to, and went there every afternoon for seven days, the length of my stay in Wellington. So you see, I do have some pleasant memories of cities, but they are all memories, I don’t live in one.
What you’d place in a time capsule
I don’t know. Journals and diaries are like “time capsules” in themselves. I like to read obscure diaries kept by farmers and housewomen in the 19th century; one has the sense not much has changed, the snow falls, a horse has to be shot, berries are picked and eaten in the summer. I don’t know. I might just bury a page upon which I have written what the weather has been like today, what I have done, what I have eaten. Nothing spectacular or literary. I wouldn’t mention that the other day I wondered what it would be like to see, set out on long tables in a field, everything you have eaten in your entire life!