NiteTalk: Granta Brings Forth the One and Only John Barth

John Barth R

Entrance-making has been a hot topic since before there even were doors (picture cavemen discussing first impressions over an open fire). What's generally less addressed is the way we leave -- the room, the building, our lives. That makes Granta's Exit Strategies something to behold indeed. The fact that the esteemed UK-based periodical got the revered John Barth to hold forth on "The End?" makes it even more so. Niteside got with the awe-awakening American Man of Letters on the eve of his Books and Books-backed face-to-face with Chauncey Mabe.

Is there ever really such a thing as The End? Of course. Things end; endings are endless. But many are tentative, provisional, or possible/probable rather than certain. "Hope springs eternal," etc. My essay's title ends with a question mark, and it was meant to be subtitled "On Writing No Further Fiction, Probably." I ought to have said "Possibly."

How would you recommend that "ending" be addressed?
That depends on what's ending, and how, and for whom.  In the case of literary production, one goes through the motions and awaits the Muse's pleasure.

Did writing about "The End?" open up a new beginning?
I certainly don't assume that there'll be no further fiction (note question mark after title): The essay merely considers that possibility -- and not despairingly.

So when shall we see the next piece?
When the Muse sees fit to unhibernate. Remember that Sophocles is said to have written his "Oedipus at Colonus" at age 90. I'm a mere (and still-healthy, and patient) 81-year old.

John Barth holds forth on Exit Strategies Tuesday February 7, 8pm at Books and Books 265 Aragon Ave Coral Gables. RSVP to

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