interview by vanessa willoughby
Is there poetry in engineering?Yes. I try to remember that my designs (whether a park, a main street, or a road) are going to be experienced by real people—the end users. There is an “emotional landscape” that comes into play when working on the physical “hardscape” of a project.
Who or what do you think lives in the deepest depths of the ocean? Tranquility.
How can a writer achieve immortality?By not aiming for it!
If you were reborn as an animal, what kind of animal would you be?An otter!
What does freedom mean to you?A society in which everyone is free to dream of a future and the opportunity to make it happen.
How much of your writing comes from a sense of double-consciousness---the clashing perspectives of being both an American and a son of immigrants? Most of my work stems from an obsession with the idea of home—and all that big word calls to mind: place, belonging, cultural identity, history, heritage, national loyalties. For immigrants and children of immigrants, questions of home are especially pronounced, but the need to seek out “home” is a universal human drive that relates to all of us.
Will the revolution be televised?It will be a reality show, without re-runs.
Are destiny and fate real forces of change?If they are, we can’t control them—so why be concerned?
What is your favorite food and your favorite memory connected to it?Easy Cheese—buying my first can of the “stuff” with my Cuban grandmother at Winn Dixie, the americano supermarket in our neighborhood.
Are people capable of true, transformative change, or do they mostly stay the same throughout their lives?Life is not about change, but about managing our inherent strengths and weaknesses. Just as with writing, our weaknesses can be our strengths, and our strengths can be our weaknesses. We manage the fine line between these.