Chatting With Maggie Nelson

Ross Simonini and Maggie Nelson at The Believer:

BLVR: It’s interesting that you make the distinction between art and not-art, because your writing doesn’t seem to make that distinction.

MN: I do think it’s all part of one flow. And to me, how personal it is and what form it takes on the page are just a Bob Creeley, “form follows content” kind of a thing. But at the same time, I’m alert to what different genres can do. And I think if someone calls Bluets a novel, I’m like, OK, that’s fine. To me, it’s within the realm of experimental speculative nonfiction. Someone could say The Art of Cruelty is a series of essays, but it was not conceived as a series of essays. It was conceived as an ongoing thought that had episodic rings of action. On Freedom is weird because it’s four long chapters, which are each, like, seventy-five pages in manuscript. This was not a particularly elegant form to me. There was no real experimenting with the accretion of fragments, like I’ve done before. And then that became a kind of formal question to me, like: How can things this long hang together? I like to come up with subtitles, like “a reckoning” or “a murder” or things that kind of name something about the form. And I always thought of these sections of On Freedom as long songs. That was my idea about them. Songs can be quite long and still hang together, and they are less boring than chapters.

more here.