Is your predilection for short prose also a matter of the pleasure you take in beginnings? Each of your publications implies a new beginning, and the structure of your texts is marked by restarts.

Beginning is awful. Nobody has an easy time finding a beginning. There are no exceptions. Now, the author of short prose is damned to restart over and over. He knows how to do it. Or rather, he’s used to the pain of it. The novelist, on the other hand, requires a single beginning and then he has to work with it for three years. That seems more comfortable to me.

Is the novelist less rushed?

In sports there are long-distance runners. Ten thousand meters. Marathons. It’s marvelous. If I were a runner, I’d run marathons. But I would always come in last, because I would take too much pleasure in the journey. I’d be too slow. Now, you could say that the novelist is the long-distance runner and the writer of short prose is the sprinter. But that’s not true. The writer of short prose is not a sprinter, he’s a long-distance runner over a short distance. When Johann Peter Hebel starts one of his stories, you have the impression that it’s going to take two hundred pages. You get comfortably settled in and then after twenty lines it’s over. But it began like a great novel. Writing is managing time, it’s a question of patience. Reading, too. Reading is lost on impatient people. . .

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