March 11, 1998
When Francine Prose finished her education in 1969 she took one look around, decided writing was the only thing she was good at, and never turned back. Thirty years later she has written nearly twenty books (among them novels, children's books, novellas, and short-story collections) and has contributed stories, articles, and reviews to almost every major American magazine and newspaper. She's also taught at prestigious writing programs (such as Sarah Lawrence and Warren Wilson), had two sons, and is currently an editor at DoubleTake.
Francine Prose is a keen observer, and her fiction is full of wryly delivered truths and sardonic witticisms that come from paying close attention to the world. "Withering," one critic has written. "Mocking," another has said. But Prose's fiction does not ease into a fashionable cynicism; instead, it tends toward irony with heart. Trapped within their own heads, victims to the nervous din of their own inner voices, her characters are nevertheless endearingly rendered. Prose's journalism, the body of which covers a remarkably wide range of contemporary topics, lacks the ironic edge of her fiction but is never shy. Very little -- not foreign travel, marital sleep patterns, affairs of the heart, motherhood, nor the countless books that she reviews for Newsday-- escapes her sharply honed perceptions.
Francine Prose spoke recently with Atlantic Unbound's Katie Bolick.