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Kind One, Laird Hunt’s most recent novel, has received gaudy reviews from many quarters (e.g., “Profoundly imaginative, strikingly original, deeply moving.” –Kirkus, starred review; “Laird Hunt’s Kind One is a mesmerizing novel of sin and expiation that plumbs the depths of human depravity and despair, yet hints at the possibility of redemption . . . [O]ne that will resonate long after you turn its last page.”–Minneapolis Star Tribune), and it was a Pen/Faulkner finalist and won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. I admired it greatly myself. Kind One deftly interweaves multiple time periods and points of view, but it all revolves around the story of Ginny, a white woman, who marries a cruel slave master. When he dies, the roles of master and slave become distorted, with consequences that reverberate long afterward.
Laird Hunt is the author of six books, including a short story collection and five novels. He teaches creative writing at the University of Denver.
The interview below is three questions long (+1, in this case), and each question is intended to be answerable with a photograph or other image. The photos and video (including the video of a video of a film) below are by Laird Hunt, and all rights are held by him. Laird told me, “I’ve been snapping photos with a little more attentiveness for a few years now. Some with a digital camera and some with a pinhole. I just got a holga plastic lens camera too although 120 film is expensive to buy and get developed!”
Nick: Is there an image you had in mind when you started Kind One?
(Doorless doorways, windowless windows, dark beyond.)
Nick: The writing throughout the book is beautiful, but I was particularly struck by the voice of Ginny — the poetry of her language, and also the peculiarities of what she choses to tell and what she choses to elide. Is there an image that captures something of your idea of her character and how she thinks and writes?
(She is coming closer, ever closer, then far again.)
Nick: It seems to me that one of the things Kind One is about is the way that certain events can carry forward in place and character through time. This theme brings to the book a ghostly quality and, often, an unsettling feeling. Any images that you associate with this aspect of the book?
(Dead tree, wall of light, Indiana cemetery haunted by itself.)
Nick: And I’d like to add a bonus imagistic question: I love the handful of black and white photographs that are included toward the end of the book. They reminded me of W.G. Sebald, of course, but also Wright Morris’s The Home Place. Where did the photos come from?
(Sharan SQ-35 Pinhole on 35mm.)
See also my previous visual interview: Imagistic Interview: Antoine Wilson and Panorama City.
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