The Corner

Larkin On America

This be the quote, from a reader:

INTERVIEWER

You haven’t been to America, have you?

[PHILIP] LARKIN

Oh no, I’ve never been to America, nor to anywhere else, for that matter. Does that sound very snubbing? It isn’t meant to. I suppose I’m pretty unadventurous by nature, partly because that isn’t the way I earn my living — reading and lecturing and taking classes and so on. I should hate it. And of course I’m so deaf now that I shouldn’t dare. Someone would say, What about Ashbery, and I’d say, I’d prefer strawberry, that kind of thing. I suppose everyone has his own dream of America. A writer once said to me, If you ever go to America, go either to the East Coast or the West Coast: the rest is a desert full of bigots. That’s what I think I’d like: where if you help a girl trim the Christmas tree you’re regarded as engaged, and her brothers start oiling their shotguns if you don’t call on the minister. A version of pastoral.

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