“It’s sort of like comparing making a fire and building a house,” he says. “A song is fire. You react to it primarily, instantly. You don’t have to decide whether you like it, and you don’t really have to sit down and think about it much after you’re done listening to it. It really does run through you like wind. Whereas a book is a journey: It’s a thing you agree to go on with somebody, and I think every reader’s experience of a book is going to be different.”
Besides being the singer and songwriter behind The Mountain Goats, John Darnielle is also a very good novelist. He recently sat down with NPR’s Lynn Neary to discuss his debut novel, Wolf in White Van, and the difference between writing songs and writing novels.