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Arts and Culture

Intersection - Author William Least Heat-Moon on New Novel, 'Celestial Mechanics'


This week on Intersection we are joined by William Trogdon, who writes under the name William Least Heat-Moon, to discuss his new novel, “Celestial Mechanics.”


The novel follows Silas Fortunato, an amateur astronomer, through a serious accident and life-changing relationships with three women. The novel is set in a place inspired by Columbia and Boone County. Heat-Moon is also the author of books including “Blue Highways” and “PrairyErth”.











Listen here:

Heat-Moon reads from the first chapter of "Celestial Mechanics."


Points from our conversation:

  • Heat-Moon drew from some of his personal experiences when writing the main character, Silas Fortunato. “I certainly have pillaged from my own life to help build him as a character. There are a few things in there that are just quite literally from my life. His stepping away from organized religion is the exact story of what happened to me. But other things are distorted.”

  • The book focuses on disconnecting from modern technology, and thinking about larger ideas, Heat-Moon says. “The book is very much about the dangers of self-absorption, and trying to connect with something bigger than self. There is a lot of talk in there about otherness and Silas, the protagonist of 'Celestial Mechanics,' is an amateur astronomer and he is looking to find ways to build a personal ethical code from what he can understand and comprehend from his astronomy.”

  • Rewriting is a fundamental, and extensive, part of Heat-Moon's process. "..this book took 10 years of notebook work to think about, and four years to write. The ideas kept developing. The ideas that are in this book, and there certainly are many of them in there, they weren't all there at first. I had to think about this for those 14 years to find what the book is really about and what it was and I wanted to say about the universe."

Intersection’s producers are Claire Banderas, Meg Vatterott and Trevor Hook.

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