Ben Fountain: 'It was like a feast.'

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In this interview, Ben Fountain says, "I love libraries."

In lingering detail, Fountain describes his olfactory joy at being in libraries particularly. One of his fondest childhood memories is of a public library in North Carolina, "one of those wonderful old municipal buildings, probably built in the '20s or '30s. Just the smell of all those books, of paper, the smell of the card catalog. That's a very powerful association for me."

He compares being in the library to being at a feast. "Whatever caught your eye was yours to explore," he said.

Ben Fountain is the author of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara. He has received the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Barnes & Noble Discover Award for Fiction, a Whiting Writers' Award, an O. Henry Prize, two Pushcart Prizes, and two Texas Institute of Letters Short Story Awards, among other honors and awards. His fiction has been published in Harper's, the Paris Review, Zoetrope: All-Story, and Stories from the South: The Year's Best, and his nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times and The New York Times Sunday Magazine, among other publications.

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