What about more contemporary forms of expediency, like the anti-terrorism measures practiced by the Bush administration?
I do not follow contemporary politics. I live in a vacuum. I don’t read books. I don’t read newspapers. I do not own a TV set or a cellphone or a computer. I spend my evenings alone, usually lying in the dark talking to women who aren’t in the room with me.
You mean they’re on the phone?
No. They’re metaphysical. I brood. I brood about former women in my life. Potential future women in my life. I ignore the culture. I don’t want it to impede, impair, interdict, suppress or subsume my imagination with extraneous influences.
Is this an act? Are you trying to pass yourself off as the sort of isolated sociopath who is a stock character in crime fiction?
No. I am not acting. There are times when I think it isn’t quite kosher to be lying in the dark talking to women who aren’t in the room with me. And it turns into a certain kind of hauntedness and loneliness. But by and large, I dig it.
Do you think of yourself as a novelist or as a crime writer?
I am a master of fiction. I am also the greatest crime writer who ever lived. I am to the crime novel in specific what Tolstoy is to the Russian novel and what Beethoven is to music.
How do you know since you say you don’t read other books?
I just know. There is a line from a wonderful Thomas Lux poem: “You’re alone and you know a few things.” I just know that I am that good.
What about Raymond Chandler, who wrote so evocatively about Los Angeles lowlifes before you?
He is egregiously overrated.