What I’m Reading | Kaui Hart Hemmings

Q&A with Christine Thomas
April 20, 2008
Honolulu Advertiser

–What are you reading?

I just finished “Revolutionary Road” by Richard Yates. It’s a novel set in the ‘60s and it’s just about a young couple who live in the Connecticut suburbs who think they’re superior to the suburban life they’ve found themselves in. They have these contentious knockdown fights and decide to move to Paris, and of course their plans get thwarted and then everything goes in this downward spiral. It’s exactly the kind of novel I like—intimate, focused on a small group of people in a very specific time and place, just about people’s relationships but yet it’s not by any means like a quiet domestic novel. There’s so much tension and suspense, too. And I just love Richard Yates.

–How did you discover it?

It came out a while ago, and my publisher Random House just started this film division so they’re starting to read books for adaptations and this one was the first pick to adapt into a movie. It’s a classic book I’m also embarrassed I haven’t read yet.

–Do you read novels while you’re writing, such as your most recent book “The Descendants” which just came out in paperback?

I’m always reading. I usually have about two to three novels around that I’m always looking through, and I know when I’m writing that something is seeping into it. Whatever I’m reading at the time, stylistically it has the tiniest bit of influence. But I like it because where I get my inspiration is reading other people’s work, maybe because I want to answer back in some way.

–How is Yates seeping what you’re working on now?

I never really know at the time what it’s doing, but I am working on something that has nothing to do with the plot but it is focused on a small group of people with not necessarily these huge problems but these minor tensions between one another. I love the way in his novel they sort of moved completely into something huge at the end. It wasn’t just about relationships— something happens in the novel, which I’m very big on. I don’t like just a lot of internal reflection. So reading his novel reminds me to keep that tension as if it’s a suspense novel, even though it’s not at all—to have something happen.