The only appropriate answer to the question "Do you like stream of consciousness writing?" is "It depends on whose consciousness is doing the streaming." During last week's reading at Elliott Bay Book Company, Joseph McElroy proved he's still one of the best streamers in the fiction-writing business. A spry man for his age—"I'm 80 years old," he said early in his talk, sounding surprised, as though he was reminding himself—McElroy spoke extemporaneously with an exactitude that most authors can't manage on the page, after extensive editing.

"We all know that memory is a liar," he said, pausing, raising his eyebrows, adding, "And a lair. There could be no forgetfulness without memory." He declared his fiction to be "the story of my life. By which I don't mean my autobiography," but rather a narrative of what he called "the two McElroys..."

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