Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Q&A with Darin Strauss, Author of Half a Life

Darin Strauss (GSAS '97) is an NYU professor and the author of Half a Life (his most recent book--a memoir about a tragedy he faced in high school) along with the novels More than it Hurts You, Chang and Eng, and The Real McCoy.

Half a Life depicts an accident that Darin Strauss never thought he would talk about. He was driving with friends to the movies when a bicyclist (who turned out to be one of his high school classmates) swerved into his car. Read below for our Q&A, but first watch this short video presentation where Darin talks in more detail about his memoir.


Does teaching at NYU affect your writing—either by way of style or content?

Teaching, in general, informs writing. (I think.) Needing to talk about your aesthetic makes you define your aesthetic; that (understanding what you're about) has to be a good thing, right? Well, probably.

Saul Bellow wrote something to the effect of: "A writer is better served by half-an-idea than by a whole idea." Maybe that's right. Ever teach a kid to throw a football? The next time you throw one yourself, you're self-conscious about it. So, it's a balance. You want to remain loose, and natural, but also to be conscious about the technique of it.

As for NYU, in particular, it's the best place I've ever taught. NYU attracts creative kids. And the graduate students are top-notch. The 3-weeks I spent at NYU Abu Dhabi was eye-opening; I had something like 15 students from 12 countries. The diversity of New York City, come to fruition in the Arabian desert; that was pretty cool..