I recently came across Terry Gross’s 11/17/03 interview with actor Peter Sarsgaard, in which he was asked about his early career wishes:
I wanted to be a writer. One of the reasons I went to Washington University was because Stanley Elkin, a great short story writer and novelist, was teaching there. And I was just a huge fan. So I got to meet Stanley, and I performed his short story “Poetics for Bullies,” which is in the Criers and Kibitzers, Kibitzers and Criers collection. And then it turned out William H. Gass was teaching there, who is also an incredible novelist. Howard Nemerov was there at the time. You know, I don’t know that I learned anything from any one of these guys except just to be around people that were just so fully committed to something so specific. Stanley’s writing is so specific, and he did it his entirely life.
The exchange – which includes a bit more about Elkin’s battle with MS – comes in around 12:50 into the interview.