LaValle on People We Idealize

Victor LaValle in an interview with Books and Culture, answering a question about how a meeting with Norman Mailer, how meeting other people whose wrote work people loved, changed the reading of them:

Everyone is going to disappoint you if you get to know them well enough. I don’t mean that in a dismissive way, but to say that it’s important to think about why we ask so much of the people we idolize. Why must they pass the test of perfection? Or even just amiability? This is certainly the case with artists, but it applies to my priest and my postman, too. I don’t know how I would’ve reacted if I’d known Mailer stabbed his wife before me and my friend showed up at his house. Would it have stopped us? I doubt it. Mailer sure wasn’t a wilting violet, but I’d hate to disqualify artists simply because their personalities were remarkable. Caravaggio was a scumbag and a street fighter, Flannery O’Connor a racist, and, from her letters, a bit of a pill. I love the work both produced though, without reservation. The saints weren’t even saints.

Read the full interview here.  It’s good.

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