On the Other Side of the Reporter’s Notebook

I had the enjoyable, slightly nerve-wracking experience of being interviewed by journalist Rick Horowitz for an article on the origins of The Four Words for Home for the website of the American University School of Communication, where I’m on faculty. Rick is a consummate professional and a lovely writer who asked great questions, and I never doubted that the story was in great hands.

It’s just that former reporters make terrible interview subjects. No matter how good the interviewer, we can’t help thinking about how the sausage is made. Even so, Rick made our phone interview a thoroughly enjoyable conversation about writing and the process by which a book takes shape, sometimes reluctantly on the author’s part.

Rick called the piece, “The Smell of Bread, the Power of Memory,” a reference to my invocations of the unique olfactory bouquet of Kabul, which includes the yin and yang of open sewers and open-air bread bakeries. His lede (this odd spelling is journalism-lingo for the first paragraph of a story):

It was not the book Angie Chuang set out to write. Which only makes sense: At the beginning, it wasn’t supposed to be a book at all. By the end, she’d be writing in fever dreams and sleep-deprived frenzies, on a much broader canvas. But that was still far in the future.

Click here to read the rest.

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