Like Shaking Hands With God: A Conversation About Writing
Reviewed by Ada Calhoun, Fri., Jan. 14, 2000
Like Shaking Hands
With God: A Conversation About Writing
by Kurt Vonnegut and Lee Stringer
Seven Stories Press, 64 pp., $15
What is writing? In the course of two evenings -- one in front of hundreds of people at a packed bookstore, the other among friends at an intimate cafe -- two writers, Kurt Vonnegut and Lee Stringer, cast about for answers. Vonnegut has championed the relatively unknown Stringer, who published his debut Grand Central Winter, an account of his life as a homeless man in New York, in 1998. In the process of discussing their shared vocation, the two writers come up with many metaphors for the writing process. Writing well is "like shaking hands with God," Stringer says. Writing in general is described as everything from self-therapy for neurotics to "a struggle to preserve our right to be not so practical." The conversation occasionally turns toward the self-adulatory, but what redeems all is the profound respect the authors clearly have for each other and for their craft.