Jeff Glor talks to David Gilbert about "& Sons."
Jeff Glor: What inspired you to write the book?
David Gilbert: My father is getting older, nearing 80, and my son is fast-approaching the teen years. Me? I'm smack dab in middle age, a kind of hinge between those two vulnerable poles. I wanted to dive into these male relationships and dig into what it means to be a father and what it means to be a son, especially a son to a famous man. I see my son in my father, and I see my father in my son; being with them is almost like having a time machine at your command. So it got me thinking, what if you could meet your dad when he was a teenager, all young and awkward, how would your impressions of him change? That was the jumping-off point.
JG: What surprised you most about the writing process?
DG: How long it takes is always a nasty surprise. You sit down and think, this time I'll be fast, or faster; this time I'll be done in two years. And then five years later a very small but very powerful "hurrah" escapes your lips. In terms of surprises within the story itself, well, Philip, the narrator, surprised me. He sort of insisted himself on every page, much like he insists himself on the Dyer clan. I was also surprised by how much I loved writing about New York City.
JG: What would you be doing if you weren't a writer?
DG: Teaching first grade, I think, after a successful stint as an arctic explorer/cryptologist. Something to do with kids and glaciers.
JG: What else are you reading right now?
DG: Just finished Elliott Holt's "You Are One of Them," which I thoroughly enjoyed. I am halfway through "Submergence" by J.M Ledgard, which is crazy good, and I am a third of the way through "Stoner" by John Williams, which is quietly brilliant. Oh, and I'm five-eighths finished with "Speedboat" by Renata Adler, which is not of this world but rather from somewhere in the early '70s.
JG: What's next for you?
DG: More writing of some sort unless I can get that arctic explorer gig.
For more on "&Sons" visit the Random House website.