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Excerpts From A Conversation with Amor Towles
Born and raised in the Boston area, Amor Towles graduated from Yale College and received an MA in English from Stanford University.
Having worked as an investment professional for over twenty years.
He is the author of two international best-sellers:RULES OF CIVILITY and A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW.
TG: First of all, AMOR- Were your parents fans of Bolero music?
AT: Not at all-It was a Puritan name. My ancestors arrived from England after the Mayflower and the Puritans didn't use saints names so they chose virtues: Faith, Hope, Charity, and the Latin for Love, Amor.
TG: Why did you decide to write RULES OF CIVILITY from the perspective of a young woman?
A: Some writers like John Cheever and Raymond Carver seem to draw artistic energy from analyzing the realm of their own experiences - their social circles and memories and mores. I'm one of those who draw creative energy from the opposite. I prefer to put myself in an environment that's farther afield and look through the eyes of someone who differs from me in age, ethnicity, gender and/or social class. I think a little displacement makes me a sharper observer. It's that challenge of trying to imagine what's on top of the dresser - the small thing that's always there on the periphery that somehow brings events into focus.
This "wonderful" (Chicago Tribune) and "sharply stylish" (Boston Globe) debut novel presents the story of a young woman whose life is on the brink of transformation. On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society-where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve. With its sparkling depiction of New York's social strata, its intricate imagery and themes, and its immensely appealing characters, Rules of Civility won the hearts of readers and critics alike.
Meet Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt, and author of the long poem,Where is it Now,? written in the aftermath of the failed revolution of 1905.
It is precisely for that poem, ambigously interpreted in 1918 by the the new rulers of Russia, that the Count is sentenced to house arrest in Moscow's elegant Hotel Metropol-should he ever set foot outside its walls he will be shot on sight.
It is here that I suggest you go to your freezer and open a bottle of top shelf Russian vodka, arrange a platter of blini and caviar, and perhaps, irrespective of gender, clip and light a Cuban cigar. And as the day eases into night pour a calvados, armagnac or cognac of your choice for A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW is a book that you won't be able to put down.
I enjoyed your interview with MaryDearborn. I have only one major
disagreement. She said that Clarence Hemingway was "psychotically
depressed" when he committed suicide in 1928. He was very much depressedbut not psychotic. Clarence invested a lot of his money in Floridareal estate and lost it. The Great Depression hit Florida in the late twenties before 1929.
He suffered from diabetes and had severe ischemia in his lower
legs. He knew that he would end up with amputations. Who would take care of him?
Ernest was heavily criticized in a wonderful book by a woman