The Problems of Celebrity

March 31st, 2005 · No Comments
by Booksquare

We have a long-standing policy at Booksquare (yes, we really do have such things that we dust off when needed): if you can’t be distractingly cute, you must be smart and funny. And since the latter ages better, we prefer the smart and funny. Thus we were charmed further into what started out as an ordinary author profile when we encountered this:

What his celebrity mostly means, Mr. McEwan said in an interview in New York this week, is that every time he has a book out, newspaper editors in Britain call him requesting, say, an essay on “My Favorite Armchair” or, as happened just recently, asking him to name his two favorite vegetables.

Beginning writers are often chastised for basing their first works too much on their own lives. This is probably because they don’t yet possess the skills to pick the right moments to illuminate. Ian McEwan embraces this approach in his latest work:

“I had this idea of seeing how one could write a novel without having to invent everything,” he said, explaining, “I suppose it had something to do with 9/11, but I wanted a sort of documentary quality. I wanted a feeling of what it was like in the early years of the 21st century.” He added, “I wanted to get the right level of bafflement.”

This does not mean the work is autobiographical. It simply takes the real experiences and puts them into the appropriate fictional context. Remember: reality is the stuff nobody would believe if they read it.

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