Peter Kang’s Blog

Regurgitating Stuff from Posterous

Ian McEwan in The New Yorker

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Last week, The New Yorker ran a profile on novelist Ian McEwan. Having read a few of his books, I enjoyed reading about his personal experiences that provided key material for some of his stories: being inspired by Philip Roth's "sexual evil-may-care" to take on incest in The Cement Garden; being on a hike and coming across two big dogs, the basis for a central event in Black Dogs; and his apartment on Fitzroy Square and the stability of his family life as the basis for Henry Perowne's world in Saturday. I'm looking forward to his next book about a Nobel Prize-wimnning physicist who takes on global warming. McEwan describes this new protagonist, Michael Beard, as "an intellectual thief," "sexually predatory," and "a compulsive eater, a round and tubby fellow who has profound self-belief." Good stuff. Here's something he said about writing:

[McEwan] went on, "When I'm writing, I don't really think about themes." Instead, he keeps in mind a phrase of Nabokov's: "fondle details." McEwan explained, "Writing is a bottom-up process, to borrow a term from the cognitive world. One thing that's missing from the discussion of literature in the academy is the pleasure principle. Not only the pleasure of the reader but also of the writer. Writing is a self-pleasuring act."

And here's some fondling from Saturday that I love:

"He takes the remote, turns the set on and pushes the mut button – the nine o'clock bulletin is several minutes away yet – and fills the kettle. What simple accretions have brought the humble kettle to the peak of refinement: jug-shaped for efficiency, plastic for safety, wide spout for ease of filling, and clunky little platform to pick up the power. He never complained about the old style – the sticking tin lid, the thick black feminine socket waiting to electrocute wet hands semmed in the nature of things. But someone had thought about this carefully, and now there's no going back. The world should take note: not everything is getting worse."

Posted via email from Peter Kang in Brief


Written by peterkang

February 26, 2009 at 5:23 pm

Posted in 1

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