Story Behind The Story

“I’m an anarchist and I really dislike hierarchies of all kinds. As a writing teacher people are like, ‘Oh, how should I fix this?’ I’m like, ‘I can help you try to figure that out for yourself. I can certainly give you my opinion but I really want to, in any way, deflect the authority of the author, the authoritarianism of the author.’ Every time I was corrected — and I encouraged it — I wanted to not just erase that and then put it in the right thing. I wanted to implicate myself … I’m saying I do make mistakes.”

This is the sixth episode of Story Behind the Story, a monthly interview series featuring conversations with authors about their creative process. In it, host Clara Sherley-Appel talks to local author and writing instructor Andy Couturier about his book, The Abundance of Less: Lessons in Simple Living from Rural Japan, in which he profiles 10 men and women who have eschewed traditional careers and lifestyles to make more time for the people and things they value.

Instead of working full-time for a corporation, the people Andy profiles grow their own food and work just enough to get by, spending their abundant free time growing their own food, engaging in environmental and political activism, pursuing music and art, and deepening their relationships with friends and family.

In this interview, Andy describes how he came to know the people he profiled and the influence they have had on his life. We also discuss his approach to translation and his position as an outsider writing about people from another culture.