“Writer’s writer” Fenton Johnson joins the GrottoPod this week for a far-ranging conversation that touches on some of the recurring themes in his work: place, solitude, faith and belonging. Johnson has written six books, including three novels and the memoir Geography of the Heart.
“I believe in writing as rhetoric. The challenge is to do the triple backwards somersault flip where whatever you’re writing is teaching you to convey that to the reader in a way where the reader is engaged and is participating in the process.”
8:36: How searching for “place” and finding one’s way became a theme in Johnson’s work.
17:12: Growing up gay in rural Kentucky, and how a unique background helps form a writer.
26:18: The twisting road of faith and how Catholicism (and the local Trappist monks) can inform an artistic worldview.
33:20: Carrying the weight of growing up in the South into the modern world.
40:08: Leaving Kentucky, heading to California and starting out as a writer.
50:02: “Solitaries,” the Harper’s article and the new book.