Andrew Sean Greer is an American novelist and short-story writer. The New York Times called his 2008 novel The Story of a Marriage “lyrical” and “inspired.” His first novel, 2001’s The Path of Minor Planets, was well received, and his second, 2004’s The Confessions of Max Tivoli, earned him comparisons to Proust and Nabokov from critic John Updike. His stories have appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, and other national publications. Born in Washington, D.C., Greer received his bachelor’s degree from Brown University and his master’s degree from the University of Montana. He currently resides in San Francisco. Greer was so well received as an undergrad that his classmates elected him the commencement speaker, for his own graduation.
Andrew Sean Greer: I think certainly Nabokov definitely for my last book, The Confessions of Max Tivoli, it was the major voice that I heard in my head and oddly really old writers like Edith Wharton for this last book, who I turned to a lot just in the storytelling. Science fiction writers when I was a kid were a big deal. Isaac Asimov, I was a big fan and Susan Cooper when I was a kid and otherwise I spent so many years reading Proust I can’t believe that wouldn’t have an influence on me and I started it up again because I loved it so much.
Question: Who are your favorite contemporary authors?
Andrew Sean Greer: My favorite has got to be Michael Chabon because I think he’s just hit it on the nose of everything I love about literary fiction and everything I love about supposedly genre fiction together. It’s like page-turner where every page is gorgeous. I love it.
Question: Did your parents pressure you to follow in their footsteps?
Andrew Sean Greer: I never wanted to be a scientist. I did, in fact, so badly in chemistry that they were quite appalled. I wasn’t that bad at it, but, you know, and I had the fun sort of childhood where my parents were the experimental type where like at breakfast my dad would bring out a vial of acid and he would pour it into the sugar and sulfuric acid, when it touches sugar it forms this big column of carbon that smells like raisins and things. Very dramatic, but it was fun. That was all fun to me, but somehow wasn’t where my heart was at all.