Kevin Barry on the Paris Review blog.
For a long time I was trying to be the next great Jewish American writer. You know, the next Saul Bellow or Philip Roth. This was in Cork city, Ireland. As a pale ginger twenty-something. It wasn’t working out all that well, but I do think you have to write out your influences.
I’ve never agreed with this idea that a writer “finds his voice” and then just sticks with it and drones on in that voice for forty years. That sounds like death to me. I tend to let the story dictate the style. Back then, I let my idea of what a great writer sounds like dictate my style. I wrote these great sententious sentences, clause after clause after clause, under a black belly of fucking cloud, and I’d end up thinking, “What is this? Who wrote this? Who is this guy?” It certainly wasn’t me.