“Sign me up as a member of the Keith Lee Morris fan club. His characters are as real, fallible, and surprising as anyone I’ve ever met, and his novel has all the textures of real life: precarious, tender, and utterly engrossing.” That’s Kelly Link, author of Magic for Beginners, on Fictionaut Keith Lee Morris‘s new novel The Dart League King.

On November 9th, Keith will read at the Wordstock Festival in Portland and then go on to tour the Northwest. You can find his complete schedule at

If you weren’t a writer, how would you spend your time?

Kicking my feet up on the rail of my yacht, drinking expensive wine, gazing back toward my villa on the Mediterranean coast, popping figs into my mouth one by one.

Which book do you wish you’d written?

The Harry Potter series.   If I’d written the Harry Potter series, I’d be kicking my feet up on the rail of my yacht, drinking expensive wine, gazing back toward my villa on the Mediterranean coast, popping figs into my mouth by one.  Ok, truly, I’d give up at least a couple of fingers to have written The Road.  I admired Cormac McCarthy a great deal before he published The Road, but that book really put him up in the stratosphere as far as I’m concerned.  Greatest American novelist of our time.  And The Road was so damn SIMPLE, really.  The best ones usually are.

I’ve also held a grudge for a long time against William Faulkner for writing As I Lay Dying before I was born, so that I didn’t get a crack at it.  Same thing goes for Salinger with Catcher in the Rye.  George Eliot and Middlemarch–if I’d been born in England in about 1820, I’d have beaten her to that one, I’ll bet you any amount of money.  Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping–it was set in my hometown, dammit, and she thought of it before I did.  Very, very recently I’ve felt like I should have gotten to some of the material in Donald Ray Pollock’s Knockemstiff, but never went quite that far.  Sometimes friends of mine–a writer like Brock Clarke, to give one example–will write excellent stories that have elements of experience common to both of us, and I’ll wonder why I didn’t get to them first.

Name one website you couldn’t live without.

I’m tempted to say there are none, but now I’m remembering that if the Clemson University website (I teach at Clemson) goes down for five minutes, I begin to gnash my teeth and moan.  So I suppose

What are you working on now?

I’m struggling to find time for fiction at the moment, but when I do I’m trying to make progress on a novel about two characters I’ve written about in a couple of short stories previously.  In this incarnation, they’ll be two middle-age buddies who try to recapture their youth by re-forming their country duo from the 80s, The Post Hole Diggers, and hitting the road for one final tour, with both comic and tragic results.  It’s a pre-apocalyptic novel about the limits of friendship and the possibility (or impossibility) of change.

Whiskey or yoga?

Beer, coffee, red wine, jogging, tennis, and basketball.

Previously on the Fictionaut Five: Matt Bondurant

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