CA: My family was not a base from which it would have been possible to build anything. By the time my brother and I were teenagers, our parents hated us. They were contemptuous of everything about us. That seems harsh to say, but it was true. It was us against them. The best we could hope for was staying under their radar. I remember telling my brother that I’d been to friends’ houses and they were nothing like ours. I told him that I would get out, then get him out. I did get out, but could never entirely extricate him. He had Stockholm Syndrome; he was in thrall to his captors. The father in Carry the One is the only character I’ve written who even has aspects of my father. I guess because life under their rule was such a terrible experience, I haven’t wanted to relive it by writing autobiographically.
His politics were not that great. He wasn’t a Republican, nothing out-and-out repulsive, but he was shifty on certain issues—like welfare and the death penalty. He thought people ought to work harder, the way he did. He thought it was okay to fry certain criminals. He picked the least sympathetic examples. Guys who chopped up their victims and served them in stews. That sort of thing.
“How’s it going?” she said.
“Big doings here.” He was talking not in a whisper exactly, more like a TV golf announcer during an important putt. “The twins started a fire in a new house going up on the next block over. Then they stuck around to watch their handiwork. The cops picked them out of the crowd right away. The toes of their sneakers were melted and charred…Those girls are so sweet looking but they are total criminals.”