Mark Haber on Writing As a Way of Asking Questions
The Author of Reinhardt's Garden in Conversation with Galit Gottlieb on the New Books Network
Ten men have already died while searching the jungles of Uruguay for a reclusive writer, Emiliano Gomez Carrasquilla, who Jacov Reinhardt believes knows the key to understanding melancholy. Carried in circles through the jungle on a stretcher, the narrator recalls how Reinhardt fueled himself with copious amounts of cocaine, built himself an outrageous castle with fake walls and trap doors, and cared nothing for the safety of those those around him, including Ulrich the dog killer, Sonja the one-legged former prostitute, and the unnamed narrator himself. The only thing that really mattered to Reinhardt, according to his amanuensis, was his search for the essence of melancholy.
Mark Haber is the author of Reinhardt’s Garden (Coffee House Press, 2019). He was born in Washington DC and grew up in Florida. His first collection of stories, Deathbed Conversions, was translated into Spanish in a bilingual edition as Melville’s Beard. His debut novel, Reinhardt’s Garden was longlisted for the 2020 PEN/Hemingway Award for a Debut Novel and was listed as one of the Texas Observer’s Best Texas Books of the Decade. He lives in Houston, Texas, loves reading and Vietnamese soup, and is operations manager and a bookseller at Brazos Bookstore in Houston.
Galit Gottlieb: Let’s talk about the title; what is his garden?
Mark Haber: I think the idea of the garden is the idea of possibility. It’s the possibility of everywhere you can go—I’ve never been to Croatia or any of the places in this book, but I think the garden is a rich tapestry of ideas and possibility in Jacov’s mind. Not all of it good. But I think that’s where the title came from. I think it’s a fine title, it works for the book.
GG: I also thought it referred to so many different aspects…
MH: It kind of does, the jungle! The joy of writing for me though is what you discover in hindsight or while you’re doing it. especially in fiction, you don’t write because you know things, you write to find out, you write because you have questions.
G.P. Gottlieb is the author of the Whipped and Sipped Mystery Series and a prolific baker of healthful breads and pastries. Please contact her through her website if you wish to recommend an author (of a beautifully-written new novel) to interview, to listen to her previous podcast interviews, to read her mystery book reviews, or to check out some of her awesome recipes.
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