Hustvedt endeared herself to me greatly by being nervous. She was the only writer I noticed being nervous in all the sessions I went to. She said she was shaking and couldn’t stop. She’d written out her speech word for word, and I loved hearing it. This tall woman nervously saying beautiful things about her writing.
She defined writing as ‘Remembering something which never happened.’ She talked about her work as echo chambers for themes and how she removes anything which doesn’t echo with it.
It was a treat to see J.M. Coetzee, another of my favourite writers (at least for the brilliant Youth), chairing her session. He wasn’t as aloof as I imagined or heard, and he’s hardly a hermit being involved with Writers’ Week.
On the death panel Hustvedt said some interesting things, including relating her brush with death when she, Auster and their daughter were in a car accident. She talked about how celebrity is a third person existence, emptied of humanity.