Well, I wrote this book, Properties of Light: A Novel of Love, Betrayal, and Quantum Physics. It was the first — it was a very daring book in terms of, well, everything for me. And I had just gotten the MacArthur.1 It was the first book I wrote after I got the MacArthur, and I think the MacArthur gave me a courage to do something that I would not have otherwise done. I really am very grateful for this award, because I felt I was sort of a little bit — I did really separated from the philosophical community, although I did continue to teach philosophy, but I had become so controversial by writing these novels, that I didn’t really — and I never published another journal article or really participated in the way that you’re supposed to, as a real academic philosopher. I was not interested anymore in journal articles, they just did not interest me.


Although I kept up, I read them, but — I tried to keep up with what was going on in the field. So, then it gets to the MacArthur, it was just like that was just so great, it was really — and I never really had all that much to do with the literary community either. I just was a real outsider of both communities. But there it was like oh, well, that’s the kind of person that the MacArthurs are often looking for people who — they’re out of the mainstream, and so that was such a — a validation, that’s the word I’m looking for. So, I wrote this book Properties of Light, it just — the book suffered a lot. It ran into a lot of bad luck. And I just felt oh, this is so heartbreaking. This is too heartbreaking, because I love my characters so much, I feel so invested in them. I feel protective of them.


It’s funny, because I was just talking to another novelist, A.M. Homes and I had said to her how upset I am for my characters when people don’t under — when the book gets slammed. And then she said, I never tell my characters about the bad reviews. And so anyway — but I just felt very kind of demoralized after feeling like “Oh, I’m validated, I can do everything” and then sort of I wrote this book and then it did not — it just met with a lot of bad luck.2

  1. Honors, The Protagonist []
  2. Cloaca, Exploratory Search, Greater Kindness, Leprosy Stand, Let Them Ventilate []
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