What do you expect now that you’ve just published your first book with a small, independent, ideally respected press? That the whole world will open up to you and bow down at your feet? That your genius will be trumpeted and sung from every mountaintop or at least one well-known reviewer will not just say… Read More Words to a young writer just starting out
I didn’t have Mordecai Richler on my mind when I was working on my new novel The Art of Being Lewis. I was writing the story of a man’s apparently perfectly-constructed life disintegrating around him. And when I first began, I saw the story’s engine as being kickstarted by one or two great mistakes made… Read More My debt to Richler
When Tolstoy wrote in Anna Karenina that “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” he could have been referring to fathers in literature. In any Father’s Day list of famous fictional fathers, Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird leads the good father lineup. He’s a true role… Read More Ten frightful fathers from fiction (on the occasion of Father’s Day 2019)
In reading much about Kazuo Ishiguro’s Nobel Prize over the last year and the incredible subtle writing he has done to earn it, I’ve been surprised at the fact that no commentators, at least none that I have seen, have noted the incredible similarity shared by his two most well-known novels Remains of the Day… Read More The butler and the organ donor
When one of my favourite writers, Kazuo Ishiguro, won the Nobel Prize for Literature earlier this month, I was reminded of the two worlds I inhabit: business and writing. In part this is because two of Ishiguro’s novels, Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, each juxtapose at least two worlds, with breathtaking emotional effect and power. In Remains… Read More The serious business of fiction
Over the last couple months, in between enjoying some fiction and working on my third novel (the second is with the publisher) I’ve read three literary biographies: the first sufficiently workmanlike to allow me to fill in the blanks and the other two delightful: Joseph Conrad: A Biography by Jeffrey Meyers; John le Carré: The Biography… Read More Talent, Effort, Experience, Luck
What do you write? Whatever I can’t get out of my mind. More often than not I find myself trying to make sense of what it’s like to be alive in the early twenty-first century. This most often takes the form of novels, poems, and essays. My poems are about anything. Increasingly the novels I’m writing… Read More Old-fashioned self-interview
Write what I have to, not what I want to.
My favourite gift to receive for Chanukah or Christmas, both of which we celebrate at home, is a book. Thanks to my wife Kara for this year’s wonderful choice of US National Book Award winner Charles Johnson’s The Way of the Writer. Part memoir, part how-to manual, part philosophical meditation from a writer and a… Read More “The Way of the Writer”
Character trumps language. Language trumps plot. Plot trumps setting, unless setting is a character.