A singular interview with John Crowley

Henry Wessells: Were you already living in Massachusetts during the writing of Little, Big?

John Crowley: The first part of the book — the first third, approximately — was written in New York. I can’t remember whether that first part was titled Edgewood or not.  Not long after that — 1976 or so [dates are slipping from me] — I moved to Lenox in the Berkshires, where I took up where I’d left off — basically at the beginning of Part Two, though I think it hadn’t got a title either.

I did complete the book in the Berkshires, a hefty MS.  I had just finished the draft when I was going on a trip to Vermont, and it occurred to me that the MS might be lost if the house where I was living then were to burn down while I was gone.  I decided to put the MS in the  (unplugged) refrigerator, which seemed a safe place even in fire.  When I returned after a few days I found that the MS was safe, no fire, but the unplugged fridge had also melted its ice in the summer heat and the box — but not the MS  — was soggy.  No harm done.  

When the Bantam edition came out in 1981 I was living in a little house on the grounds of a large old Berkshire mansion.  I held a celebration there — Matt Tannenbaum, Laurie, my Bantam editor, my long-ago girlfriend Mickie up from NYC, Tom Disch,  and Annulf Conradi, who was publishing the German edition. (Were you there? I can’t remember). We sat out on the grass — it was high summer.  A great day, a great moment.

[5 November 2022]

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John Crowley is author of Little, Big and many other books, most recently And Go Like This and Flint and Mirror. He recently celebrated his eightieth birthday.

Sometimes a gift shows up unannounced. This interview came about as a result of David Godine asking me to participate in a panel discussion, organized under the auspices of the Massachusetts Center for the Book, on influential books printed, published, written, or conceived in Massachusetts. Naturally enough, one of my first thoughts was whether Little, Big could be added to this list. I found that another participant, Matt Tannenbaum of The Bookstore in Lenox, also holds the book in  high esteem.