Boy, are these guys having fun! They’re in London, and they’ve just finished giving a reading to a packed house at the National Poetry Centre. For some time now critics and reviewers who write for the British papers and magazines have been calling them ‘Dirty Realists’, but Ford and Wolff and Carver don’t take this seriously. They joke about it just as they joke about a lot of other things. They don’t feel like part of a group.
It’s true they are friends. It’s also true they share some of the same concerns in their work. And they know many of the same people and sometimes publish in the same magazines. But they don’t see themselves as belonging to, or spearheading, a movement. They are friends and writers having a good time together, counting their blessings. They know luck plays a part in all this, and they know they’re lucky. But they’re as vain as other writers and think they deserve any good fortune that comes their way – though often as not they’re surprised when it happens. Between them they have produced several novels, books of short stories and poems, novellas, essays, articles, screenplays and reviews. But their work, and their personalities, are as different as sea breezes and salt water. It is these differences, along with the similarities, and something else hard to define that make them friends.
The reason they’re in London and having such a big time together and not back home where they belong in Syracuse, New York (Wolff), or Coahoma, Mississippi (Ford), or Port Angeles, Washington (Carver), is that they all have books coming out in England within days of each other. Their books are not that much alike – at least I don’t feel so – but what the work does have in common, I believe, is that it is uncommonly good and of some importance to the world. And I would go on thinking this even if, God forbid, we should ever cease being friends.