Thomas McGuane wants to discuss how fiction works. It’s a Friday afternoon, and he’s on the phone from Florida, where he recently hosted a family gathering: “all the kids and grandkids,” as he puts it, a tone of satisfaction in his voice. Now, the family is gone and he’s considering the trade that has defined him for half a century.
“It’s like being in the woods and trying to start a fire with wet kindling,” the 77-year-old — who will receive this year’s Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement at the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes — explains with a light chuckle. “You keep breaking matches and you are shocked when it lights.