To the suggestion that such attention to detail is part of his appeal, Matthiessen replies, “I think in any writing you’re paying attention to detail. E. M. Forster made that wonderful observation that good writing is administering a series of tiny astonishments. The astonishments aren’t things you never knew. What they are is sort of the first articulation of something you knew but you’d never seen set down in print. And you say, Ah, yes! How true.”
I have been listening to a tape: The Zen of the Writers life – Loving it – a lot of the good stuff is also in this interview.