Talking with Jeffrey Tayler (page 3)
Talking with Jeffrey Tayler
page 1, page 2  page 3
 
How did you find a publisher for the book, or did you have one before you started?
  The same publisher, Ruminator Books, formerly Hungry Mind, published both Siberian Dawn and Facing the Congo. My agent found them for me, and I have been very satisfied. I wrote the first book with neither agent nor publisher; the second I did on contract.
 
  You said you were working on a novel. What is it about?
  It has to do with Moscow in the early- and mid-nineties, but that’s about all I can say at the moment.
Who are some of your favorite writers?
I would prefer to cite favorite works rather than writers, since even geniuses stumble. As far as long fiction goes, my favorites are Anna Karenin, Lolita, A Bend in the River, Great Expectations, In a Free State, The Quiet American, and Moby Dick, to name more than a few. Among short stories, I never tire of Chekhov’s “A Lady and Her Dog,” or almost anything by Maupassant. I also like Ivan Bunin’s work.
     I realize these are all recognized classics, and I’m not saying anything new by citing them here. But so much journalism and fiction shows that too many writers are not reading the classics any more, when there is nothing better in print. Dickens is probably the only novelist who never disappoints, and I think he is a good one to read for aspiring writers.
  If you were to select a place for RPCVs to visit, where would it be?
  Assuming you’re referring to aspiring RPCV writers, I can only say that unless they want to follow the path typically trodden by foreign journalists, who move in clumps from one crisis point to another, or who are simply assigned to a “post” where they often speak little of the local language, they should travel to places to which they feel an enduring emotional bond.
     Don’t get me wrong: We need people to tell us in frank concise terms what this dictator has said or how many acres of rain forest were logged illegally, but we should not confuse precision and impartiality with perspective and meaningful writing, the kind of writing that speaks to people decades after it was penned. Decisions about where to travel and what to write about may, thus, be personal, emotional, and possibly even dangerous and irrational, but it has always seemed to me better to fail at a great endeavor than prosper in something banal. So I have no one answer, and would leave it to the intuition of the RPCVs themselves.
  Do you think of yourself as an expatriate?
  I think of myself as myself. Questions of nationality arise only when others bring them up, which at times happens in Moscow as a result of bumps in Russian–US relations. But I think you mean do I belong to the expatriate community here; no, I don’t. But I don’t feel I’m Russian, either.
Are you going to keep Russia as your base, or will you be moving somewhere else?
My wife is Russian, so I will always keep returning to Moscow, even if I leave to live somewhere else.
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