Jonathan Lethem and Geoff Dyer are both among my favorite writers and talkers, in large part for their brilliant self-consciousness about the individual paths they've cleared through the thickets of genre. It won't surprise you that they are longtime correspondents and mutual admirers, but Bomb has gotten them to put an exchange on paper for a change, and for a "limited time" has the whole thing online. (Nevertheless, this will probably be yet another issue of Bomb I've bought because of an interview I couldn't resist.)
They talk about two of Dyer's projects, one old but new to American readers (his 1994 book on World War I, The Missing of the Somme, which just was published here for the first time) and one still to come, Zona, his book-length examination of Tarkovsky's Stalker (which, as it happens, is excerpted in the new Paris Review which just arrived at my house this week, and which I haven't gotten to yet because I immediately started devouring Sam Anderson's interview there with Nicholson Baker and reading good bits aloud to my wife, another fan of Baker--a genre-tumbling artist himself who of course comes up more than once in the Dyer-Lethem exchange).
Speaking of good bits, here's one from Bomb I like, from Dyer:
Now, a point of comparison: it seems to me in some ways that you and I are rather similar. We are both hobbyists, obsessives, inventoryists who have pursued these hobbies and interests outside of academia. That’s the overlap of sensibility. But you have nailed your primary colors more loyally to the novelist’s mast, to narrative fiction. Let me put this distinction another way: you are American; I am English. The American novel is able to accommodate a tendency to digress, whereas I feel the English novel is sort of to one side of where my main enthusiasms are, so I’ve found a way of digressing from the national norm. I throw this out as an off-the-cuff thought, so feel free to debunk. But I honestly, if mistakenly, believe I would have been more thoroughly a novelist if I’d either been born in America or had moved there—as I should have done—10 or 15 years ago.
And, in turn, more cross-pond comparing from Lethem:
This is going to be another English versus American thing for us—you, there, feeling so suffocated and hidebound by weary traditionalism; me, here, feeling so exasperated with the falsehood of a constantly moving frontier and the cultural amnesia that accompanies the myth of innovation: “Make it new!” and pretend you can’t see how it’s really quite old. For me, the useful insight about novels is how deeply even the apparently radical ones rely on the tradition, the old forms, the recipe from Dickens. I like that and find it nourishing. The “conformity,” as you call it, doesn’t irritate me. Bogus revolutions irritate me more.