Lee Henderson is the author of, most recently, The Road Narrows As You Go, the story of an aspiring cartoonist finding her way in the cultural climate of the 1980s. A B.C.-based author, Henderson has been shortlisted for the 2008 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and has won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and the City of Vancouver Book Award.
Why did you write your new book?
I wanted to remix the book Peter Pan with 1980s junk-bond white-collar crime and make Neverland a city I love, San Francisco, and use the daily newspaper comic strip as a kind of metaphor.
Whose sentences are your favourite, and why?
When I want my lid to pop off, I go back and check out lines by Robert Walser and Samuel Beckett, and just as often William Gaddis and Cynthia Ozick, also J.K. Huysmans and Sheila Heti. But Jean Echenoz and Antonio Lobo Antunes and Dubravka Ugresic are amazing for their sentences, too, to name some more good names. I would like to add more names to this list.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
My dad once told me to finish what I start before moving on to something new.
Which historical period do you wish you'd lived through, and why?
The Jurassic period – it lasted 200 million years!
Would you rather be successful during your lifetime and then forgotten, or legendary after death?
Success is great, failure is inevitable, a life filled with love and curiosity is more important to me, and anyway, one lifetime is not enough time for a book to meet all its readers.
What agreed-upon classic do you despise?
The Flowers of Evil by Baudelaire – I despise the pentacle-shaped scar it left on the thin skin of my happy heart.
Which fictional character do you wish you'd created?
Otto Pivner from William Gaddis's The Recognitions is an amazingly complex creation, but Calvin from Calvin & Hobbes for sure, and Peter Pan.
Which fictional character do you wish you were?
Linus from Peanuts is at least a role model.
What question do you wish people would ask about your work (that they don't ask)?
Hey, are you into André Breton and French Surrealism?
This interview have been condensed and edited.