Ben Fountain to The Morning News: ‘I Don’t Want to Die in Dallas’

I’m not sure if we can say that Ben Fountain has put Dallas on the literary map, but his presence here — writing from and about Dallas — certainly has helped lift this city’s bona fides as a place where serious writing is possible. In this new interview with Fountain in The Morning News, the author talks about working in Dallas:

 There is something to be said for living in a city like Dallas and trying to write. You are living in the belly of the beast. It’s in your face every day–you’re living it. It’s not like a research trip somewhere. Your assumptions are always going to be challenged, your point of view challenged. I think it’s the most American city. You get the purest strain of certain aspects of America–like capitalism, free market evangelicalism–consumerism, materialism, conspicuous consumption.

And not wanting to die here:

I followed my wife out to Texas. She’s the reason I went. At the time I thought, well, Dallas feels similar to North Carolina. There is this veneer of Southern-ness about it, but with a big city, so I thought I’d get the best of both worlds. But after a couple of years I realized that no, it’s very different. My wife has had a really good career practicing law there. She’s happy doing what she is doing. We raised our kids there and it was a decent place to raise kids. But I have to say my wife and I have agreed we don’t want to die in Dallas.

Read the whole thing here.

16 comments on “Ben Fountain to The Morning News: ‘I Don’t Want to Die in Dallas’

  1. say buddy, you say you don’t want to die in dallas?..we almost agree, i don’t want you to live in dallas!..

  2. Why did they put a [sic] after “alls”? How else are you supposed to spell the plural of “all” — as in, “Alls I want for Christmas is my two front teeth”?

  3. RB: I understand that you are fascinated by Haiti. Any other Caribbean spots? Why not Cuba, for instance? What is it about Haiti? That says all you need to know about the interviewer.

    Don’t want to die in Dallas? If diagnosed with cancer, might I suggest Cuba or if you don’t want to wait that long, there is the south side of Chicago.

  4. Reading the interview + reading this comment thread = all you need to know about the state of intellectual life in Dallas, the Athens of America.

  5. Well, Mr. Fountain doesn’t hide his distaste for Dallas. He says it’s obsessed in the main with materialism and conspicuous consumption, has a “crude way” of looking at the world, and has “very little awareness that there may be a different way.” This is a garden-variety stereotype of the type favored by “deep-thinking,” sophisticated intellectual elites. So why are you surprised when Dallasites push back a bit?

  6. You might take into account that Mr. Fountain’s wife is an attorney that specializes in tax planning for wealthy people and companies providing him with all the materialism and conspicuous consumption that his little liberal hearts desired while pining for that Cuban utopia. Elitism at its best.

  7. Judging simply by the picture above, he looks remarkably at ease in bourgeois climes. I’m guessing North Dallas. It must suck to be much, much, much, much smarter than your neighbors like that. He should move to Winnetka Heights or Lakewood , where he’ll only be much, much smarter than his neighbors. Of course, he might not look as remarkably at ease. So.

  8. At first I thought it was curious to hear writers referred to as intellectuals, but then I realized that it is writers who reveal to us who we are, or at least who we would be if we were those writers.

  9. Are D Mag writers capable of reading? The way in which P. Simek writes this blog entry could make someone think that Dallas has contributed to B. Fountain’s writing, ability and otherwise. That is certainly not the picture painted by the article in The Morning News (not the poor excuse for a city newspaper, Dallas Morning News, but the legitimate online news outlet). Fountain writes well in spite of, not because of, living in Dallas. According to him at least.

    If you walk around Dallas and wonder why so many citizens are incapable of reading, thinking, and writing about newsworthy events, two big culprits are the popular, yet borderline comical, news outlets of DMN and DMag. Disheartening to say the least.

  10. Ignorance s allowed to push back. But don’t dispute the cold hard truth that Dallas is anti-intellectual and even anti-thought. Just state your case as to why ignorance is preferable to awareness (e.g. bliss, easier, more fun, etc.).

  11. I will dispute your “cold hard truth.” But first you need to explain what you mean by “anti-intellectual and even anti-thought.”

  12. Two things:

    1. Ben’s a really nice guy. Thoughtful, wryly funny, and unpretentious. Most of the people on this blog would enjoy having a drink with him.

    2. If you enjoy reading (and, by the way, no shame if you don’t), you would probably enjoy reading Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and his first book of short stories.