On Monday, Rick Moody talked with Sufjan Stevens and Wesley Stace about literature and music at the second PENultimate Lit event. The full audio should be up on the main PEN site soon, but in the meantime, you can watch short clips filmed by a few of the many Sufjan fans who were in the audience. In this one, Sufjan talks about his favorite writers, who are largely from the South-- Flannery O'Connor, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner:
Sufjan's Illinois album, lent to me by one of our generous interns, reminds me more of the great Winesburg, Ohio than any other book I can think of-- and, indeed, at the very beginning of the clip, you can hear Sufjan briefly mention his fondness for Sherwood Anderson.
He also told a funny story about sending a short story to Harper's magazine back when he was writing fiction. Sufjan did an MFA at the New School; his thesis, he told the crowd on Monday, consisted of short stories set in two fictional Michigan towns (some of those stories, he said, led to the songs on his Michigan album). His story was rejected, and scrawled in hand on the standard rejection letter was a note that said, "Harper's fiction is impenetrable. Do not send any more stories." He appreciated the personal attention.
By the way, at the end of the clip above, you'll see links to two short clips from Sufjan's solo acoustic set at the event. And if you click here, you'll get moderator Rick Moody's thoughts on Flannery O'Connor, published in PEN America 2: Home & Away.
Update: The audio of the event is now online (along with some lovely photographs by Beowulf Sheehan).