The Rumpus Interview with James Vance

The parallels I’m most interested in are the ways that human nature never changes, no matter how far back in time you look. I did a lot of work with early 20th century attitudes, the kind of superficial notions and behavior that prompt people who don’t know history very well to think that “people were different back then”—but beneath all that are characters who react in ways that we can all recognize, and will always be able to recognize.

All the same, I can’t blame anyone for being pessimistic when they look around, after all the blood spilled and energy spent to gain ground for working people in the past, and see it all happening again. I wasn’t pointing a finger when I wrote the book, but sometimes the message is there even when you aren’t actively trying to be the messenger.