shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass


you can't handle the truth!

Jonathan Lethem explains the many answers he may give if you ask him whether one of his characters is based on a real person:

So that reply, too, is a brand of honesty I can offer up without withering my self-respect. The problem, though -- the thing I'd explain if only I could -- is that while it's right to remind a reader that a character is a chimera, a shadow, a glance, far less in substance than even the shallowest human being who ever lived, it's equally true that most characters are dwelling-places for dozens of human lives, containers for much more than a description of a single person. These notions may seem to contradict one another, but they don't. Philip Roth has pointed out, rightly, that a writer only begins by basing his or her work on some real person or event. It's everything that follows, everything the writer elaborates after that point, that makes it worth reading, that makes it, maybe, literature.

There's an interview as well headlined "Jonathan Lethem: Chameleon," which makes me hear "Karma Chameleon" in my head.


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