Elena Bowes

New York-London design & culture writer of a certain vintage looking for meaning and wholeness in life

Q&A with Curtis Sittenfeld

June 26th, 2020
Books & Authors

There are a few authors that I don’t even need to know the title of their latest book, I’m a buyer. Donna Tartt (if only she published more frequently), Nora Ephron (if only she were still alive), Anne Lamott, Anne Patchett and Alice Munro, to name a few.  Curtis Sittenfeld made the list when I read her debut novel Prep which became an instant bestseller in 2005. Curtis was 29.

Turns out my hero Nora Ephron was similarly enamoured with Prep. Ephron wrote the below in Entertainment Magazine:

The end of summer evokes a pang for back-to-school, and all that it entails, like nothing else. Even if you’re not school-supply-shopping in New York or sending your crush a bouquet of freshly-sharpened pencils, the crisp fall air just does something to a person. For the book lovers among us, we feel drawn to campus novels to get lost in the world of textbooks, messenger bags, and fictional boarding school romances. Almost no tome evokes this seasonal spirit better than Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep.

Sittenfeld’s’s latest book Rodham

imagines that Hillary doesn’t say yes to Bill. What starts as a passionate with a capital P college love story evolves as Hillary gets to know her Lothario boyfriend better. The two meet again and again throughout their lives, from lovers to political rivals to I’m not saying anymore.

This is a story about love and loss, ambition, and the sacrifices we make to create a life. And dear readers, it’s funny. Sittenfeld is funny.  Anyone who pens article titles like And on the Eighth Day God Created Tartar Sauce, or If I’m on Facebook It Must be Over has a sense of humor.

I got a chance to ask Sittenfeld some questions.

What’s next?

I want to write a very short, very fun novel that requires no research.

Sittenfeld read no less than 15 books, listened to several relevant podcasts and read many public statements in her research for Rodham. No wonder the novel feels so believable. And no wonder Sittenfeld wants a wee break.

What’s on your summer reading list?

Our Time Is Now by Stacey Abrams

What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe

Fairest: A Memoir by Meredith Talusan

Separation Anxiety by Laura Zigman

Looking back, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?


Can you tell us something surprising about yourself?

I don’t really do anything creative or crafty other than writing—I don’t knit, draw, bake, or play an instrument. But I’m impressed by people who do!

I’m grateful that Sittenfeld sticks to writing. The rest of my interview with the St Louis-based author can be found here on 26’s June issue. 26 is a diverse group of people who share a love of words, in business and in life.

June, 2020