In this episode, Sewanee Review editor-at-large Sidik Fofana talks with Michael Knight, author of The Typist and Eveningland, about the first book that made him cry, how writer-envy becomes inspiration, and the magic of craft. Knight discusses two of his stories, “Smash and Grab” and “The King of Dauphin Island,” both set in his hometown of Mobile, Alabama. Knight investigates this setting’s complexities, explaining that his writing reflects a childhood where “almost all of my memories are beautiful and filled with love” as it simultaneously aims to reveal “some kind of truth of the place.”
At the center of Fofana and Knight’s conversation is genuine delight; Knight in particular expresses an ever-present sense of wonder for what the written word can do. Whether he’s talking about his own process (“It feels really good to be sitting in the chair when the story lands, and that feeling, it hasn’t stopped being thrilling for me”) or bearing witness to the work of another writer (“It’s not just the being excited by a good story, it’s where you see a writer make a decision that’s startling, and surprising, and you’ve never seen it before, and you’re like, I want to go do that), there is, he reminds us, an innate pleasure in narrative. This sentiment translates also to Knight’s experiences teaching, which he cites as integral to his own development as a writer.
Knight’s novels and short story collections include Divining Rod, Goodnight, Nobody, and Dogfight and Other Stories. His story “The King of Dauphin Island” was published in the Sewanee Review’s Winter 2017 Issue. Currently, Knight directs the University of Tennessee’s Creative Writing Program.
The Sewanee Review Podcast is recorded in the Ralston Listening Room at the University of the South. This episode is produced by Hayden Dunbar and edited by ProPodcast Solutions with music by Annie Bowers. Don’t miss any of our conversations with some of today’s best writers. Subscribe to the Sewanee Review Podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.