A conversation between Janna Levin and Jonathan Lethem at Seed Magazine. (Many thanks to Maxine for the link.)
Here's Lethem, anyway, on the fiction-non-fiction divide:
Well, one of the underrated aspects of novels per se, one of the forms of pleasure that we readers derive from reading fiction that is least discussed in traditional literary criticism, is factual material. People thrive on finding great chunks of information on how the world works in their fiction. One of the great secrets to the crime drama is that readers are almost always inadvertently thrilling to descriptions of how, for instance, a bank operates. These are the sorts of things that ordinary novelists feel that they're not allowed to talk about or get interested in—they're supposed to be concerned with the emotional or psychological lives of their characters and would never stop to tell you at what hour the teller counts her drawer and moves it to the back of the bank. And yet we're all hungry for those pieces of information about our world. We're nourished, without even noticing it, by this genre that's devoted to telling us quite a lot about them.
Lots more good stuff too, go and have a look--I like reading this kind of thing, makes me itchy to write something really good (though I must say that the conversation itself is far more metaphysical than anything I'd like to be embroiled in)!
Mention of metaphysics reminds me that my favorite Irish philosophy PhD is reading in April at KGB, this is one that I'm going to totally clear the calendar for even though it's the dreaded Sunday-night scheduling which makes me crazy: here's the link, April 22 at 7pm. It's the Hard Case Crime lineup (too lazy to paste in links, but this should be fun): Ken Bruen and Jason Starr, who have authored a sequel to last year's collaborative neopulp experiment, Richard Aleas aka Charles Ardai, Peter Pavia and Max Phillips. That's excellent...