Interview with Suzanne Berne, Author of The Dogs of Littlefield
18 Feb 2016
I’ve always loved novels that focus on a place. I also love novels of manners, social comedies, and so that’s what I set out to write in The Dogs of Littlefield. Which I would call a comic novel about menace.
Littlefield is a kind of modern Cranford, a refuge from the conflicts and terrors of the “Global Village,” a lovely suburban New England town. So lovely it has recently been listed on a website as one of the Twenty Best Places to Live in America. It is also home to one percent of the nation’s psychologists—and so has come to the attention of a social anthropologist from the University of Chicago, who has arrived to study the effects of global destabilization on a place that should be exceptionally stable. But coinciding with her arrival, someone begins poisoning dogs at the town’s first designated “off-leash” dog park, subject of much argument and contention. And everything devolves from there.
Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?
I would love to know what Jane Austen might think of hook-up culture on college campuses. Her view of Donald Trump’s candidacy would also be interesting.
If you had an extra hour each day, how would you spend it?
Walking outside with my dog. We could both use the exercise and I like bumping into my neighbors and acquaintances. And since last winter, every day that it’s not snowing in New England is a day to be treasured.
What is the one movie that you can quote the most?
Franco Zefferelli’s Romeo and Juliet. I saw it eleven times when I was a teenager.
What’s rocking your world this month?
Unfortunately, I’d say what’s been rocking everyone else’s world—the shootings in San Bernadino, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the videos released by the Chicago Police Department, Syria. Menace and the Global Village have been very much on my mind.
What’s your favorite quote or scene from The Dogs of Littlefield?
I like Hedy Fischman’s observation that with an egg you can survive anything.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
Well, my father used to say “Onward!” quite a lot.
Suzanne Berne is the author of the new book The Dogs of Littlefield.Buy The Book
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