The Gist

John Darnielle Talks About Words and Snakes

The Mountain Goats’ lead singer on his horror novel, Universal Harvester, and accidental creative inspiration.

John Darnielle at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2015 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Roberto Ricciuti/Getty Images

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John Darnielle has always had a facility with words. As singer and songwriter behind the Mountain Goats, Darnielle has made pop poetry about lonely outsiders and cultural marginalia. Now, in his second novel, Universal Harvester, he explores the lives of desperate people in a small Iowa town. He also talks about a song title so good that no singer could ever do it justice.

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