Sunday, January 20, 2013
Inside the List
THE MOTIVE: David Baldacci’s latest novel, “The Forgotten,” is at No. 12 in its eighth week on the hardcover fiction list. It’s hard to imagine Baldacci’s fans looking up from the book’s breathy sentences — “The smell of sex was all over her. He wondered if she realized that” — to ask themselves what compels Baldacci to face the blank page every day; really, isn’t the smell of sex enough? Be that as it may, anybody curious can find Baldacci’s thoughts on the matter in “Why We Write,” a new collection of interviews edited by Meredith Maran, in which 20 well-known authors try to analyze what, exactly, keeps them at it.
“Sometimes I envy myself 20 years ago, sitting in my little cubbyhole with nobody knocking on my door, writing stories without worrying about the touring, the money, the foreign travel,” Baldacci laments in what has come to be known as a humblebrag. “But every day I try to face the screen as if there’s no commercial world out there, as if I’m doing it for free, for the pure joy of telling my stories, the way I did it for the first 16 years.” This is all very pious, I’m sure, but I prefer one of the explanations proffered by Sue Grafton, whose new story collection “Kinsey and Me” enters the hardcover list at No. 4: “I wasn’t cut out to be a ballerina.” Or, for that matter, the answer Mark Jacobson gave 15 years ago when Will Blythe edited a similar collection, “Why I Write.” Jacobson’s contribution was titled, refreshingly, “For the Money.”