10.15.2004

Identity Theory announces its First Annual Nonfiction Contest. "Please submit your nonfiction stories, rants, confessions, plots, plans, embarrassments, love stories, escapades, etc. Anything counts, so long as it really happened. No amount of words is too few, or too many. Pictures are fine."

IT has many excellent interview with authors. One of my favorites is with Donna Tartt, who discusses the practice of writing novels that are a long time in the making, the hazards and demands of publicity and fame, and the visual acuities of readers today:
Rober Birnbaum: ...One thing that struck me as I finished The Little Friend is how you [the writer] knew it was finished? How did you know when you wanted to end the book?

DT: I knew it from the very beginning. This is very much the book I set out to write when I set out ten years ago. This is how I envisioned it. I wanted it to end in a fairly uncertain place. I didn't want to tie things up too neatly. I don't think it's really the business of a writer today, to tie up narrative too neatly and deliver it in a box. And to lead the killer away in handcuffs. Do you know what I am saying? It's too much about television and movies and it's too much a kind of narrative that we are inundated with. It's a writer's business now, to work at the edges of narrative and different kinds of experience, which is just as legitimate but not as stylized and ritualized as the kinds of things we all have been used to for many, many years.

It's impossible to be a novelist in the 21st century and not be influenced by media—by film—we are creatures with enormous visual cortexes. For us seeing is believing. We have become so visually sophisticated. Everyone is visually sophisticated because of television; because of advertising we are inundated with images.

RB: Are you suggesting that many novels have become more like visual media than like old-fashioned stories?

DT: No, not quite. It's impossible to be a novelist in the 21st century and not be influenced by media—by film—we are creatures with enormous visual cortexes. For us seeing is believing. We have become so visually sophisticated. Everyone is visually sophisticated because of television; because of advertising we are inundated with images. This has been going on since the early part of the 20th century. There is no one alive today in this culture that really hasn't been inundated by images. That necessarily colors writing, not necessarily in a bad way. A writer like Vladmir Nabokov is influenced by film and he talks about it. He uses visual puns in his work very often. And then you have a writer like Jane Austen who very seldom describes what a character looks like. We don't really know what they look like. "A nice well formed gentleman of twenty-four…", the descriptions are very vague. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It's a different thing. Our enormous visual sophistication as a people and as a culture has infiltrated us in every way not just in the writing of novels and the reading of novels. So, no, I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing.
She is so genius. I absolutely love her work.

-Lauren
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