Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I think it is a character flaw

that I find Ian McEwan (or at least his recent fiction and public persona, he himself is probably a perfectly nice guy) so annoying, everyone else I know who cares about such things seems to be a great enthusiast, but I've just read a typically maddening interview with McEwan by Robert Birnbaum (actually, it's a great read, very revealing, as are all Birnbaum's interviews, but there were at least three places where I was ready to be sick!):

IMcE: I often think, 'What was this golden age to which you hark back to? The '50s?' Literary culture was always a minority culture. Every small town you go to you will find some person who is just obsessed by books. They are everywhere, those people, and they pop up in the most unexpected places. Peoples whose lives are in books. They often have a very unhealthy look.

RB: [laughs]

IMcE: I meet these guys and they are usually guys. They have read far more than I have or ever will, these particular kinds of poets and dreamers who really have a mad hunger for reading.

RB: That would be a hopeful sign.

IMcE: I think so. But generally, those guys apart, the novel is sustained by women. And like most of the differences between men and women we find what we get a big chunk in the middle of the bell curve, of women who read constantly and steadily. And among men a far lower number reading but at the far end of the spectrum just a few utterly crazed enthusiasts.

Seriously, there are so many reasons this is an absurd thing to say... I thought the other most awful passage was this:

I think this generation of kids is far nicer than we were, to their parents, on the whole. My kids were happy to sit around the table and talk and they’d bring their friends. One of the great bridges, which we never had with our parents, is the music. They don’t have a radically—fortunately, my kids don’t like drum and bass—if that was their music than there would be nothing to talk about. Their music is all built on the same rock and roll base of ‘50s and ‘60s, that our music was built on. So we have a bridge.

It's the aside that kills me--"fortunately, my kids don't like drum and bass"...

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