Ben Fountain QuotesBen Fountain is an American fiction writer currently living in Dallas, Texas. He has won many awards including a PEN/Hemingway award for Brief Encounters with Che Guevara: Stories (2007) and the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction for his debut novel Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (2012).
I think I was lucky to come of age in a place and time – the American South in the 1960s and ’70s – when the machine hadn’t completely taken over life. The natural world was still the world, and machines – TV, telephone, cars – were still more or less ancillary, and computers were unheard of in everyday life.
You’d think family would be the one sure thing in life, the gimme? Points you got just for being born? So much thick, meaty stuff bound you to these people, so many interlocking spirals of history, genetics, common cause, and struggle that it should be the most basic of all drives, that you would strive to protect and love one another, yet this bond that should be the big no-brainer was in fact the hardest thing.
I’m a writer, not an editor, and though the editing rarely cut into my writing time, it did take away from that walking-around-thinking-about-it-when-you’re-not-thinking-about-it time that I think is important for writers. When you’re half-thinking about what you’re working on while driving, cooking . . . just letting things sift and settle, come to you.
I have a horror of being self-indulgent and wasting time, and there is that risk in doing this kind of work. Are you totally deluded in sitting down at a desk every day and trying to write something? Is it self-indulgent, or might it possibly lead to something worthwhile? At a certain point I decided to keep on because I felt like the work was getting better, and I was taking great pleasure in that.