Just Write

Writing about place

Kevin Nance’s interview of August Kleinzahler in the Nov/Dec 2013 issue of Poets & Writers shows how to describe character and setting.

“One bright afternoon in San Francisco, Kleinzahler joins me for a spot of lunch at his favorite Chinese restaurant in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, once a hippie haven and now well into the process of gentrification, full of trendy shops and high-end hipsters. He cuts a fine figure in sunglasses, a banded hat, and a jaunty scarf tied haphazardly around his neck.

He is, in some ways, a Californian now, a San Franciscan. ‘It agreed with me instantly,’ he says of the city he first encountered more than three decades ago. ‘The look of it, the feel of it, the bookstores, the bars, the Chinese food—all good for me.’ On the other hand, ‘It’s not home,’ he says, ‘The people don’t talk right here, they don’t walk right, their body language is wrong.'”

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