One Minute With: Thomas Lynch

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I've just walked over to the funeral home [in Milford, Michigan, where he is the undertaker]. I'm looking out at freshly fallen snow: February in Michigan is a wicked little month.

What are you currently reading?

I've just finished Robin Robertson's new collection of poetry, The Wrecking Light - I'm very fond of him.

Choose a favourite author and say why you admire him or her

HL Mencken, the American, journalist, essayist – and curmudgeon. He was such a fine contrarian.

Describe the room where you usually write

The office at my home. It looks out on Liberty Boulevard and is full of... the usual litter of a writer's life. I've been there for 35 years.

What distracts you from writing?

Anything: if anyone calls with a better offer, I'm on for it. The approach to writing is painful, and the doing of it is joyous – but it is work.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

Duffy in James Joyce's story, "A Painful Case" [from Dubliners]. "He had an odd autobiographical habit which led him to compose in his mind ... a short sentence about himself containing a subject in the third person and a predicate in the past tense."

What are your readers like when you meet them?

I'm always a little bit gobsmacked that people read at all. For American poets, the expectation is that no one will read us – we're very grateful when we find someone who has.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

My father; my family – they're better people than I am. I keep on trying to live up to the high bar they set.

Thomas Lynch's 'Apparition & Late Fictions' is published by Jonathan Cape.