An interview with Ian McEwan about Enduring Love

The following is an abbreviated version of an interview that ran on the NPR affiliate KUSP on February 16th, 1998 and 12:00 pm. Eric Schoeck is the Capitola Book Café Events Coordinator.

E.S.: Several of the reviews I’ve read have targeted the opening scene of Enduring Love as particularly compelling. Have you been hearing this from people as well?

I.M.: I came across a journal entry I wrote about six months before I began working on Enduring Love. My journal tends to be full of little exhortations, and it said, “write a first chapter that would be the equivalent of a highly addictive drug.” I did want to have the reader hit the ground running…

E.S.: So to speak…

I.M.: So to speak. In fact, one of the other chapters was originally the opening. It’s a chapter where someone makes an attempt on the life of the narrator in a restaurant.

E.S.: Which comes much later.

I.M.: Which now is Chapter 19. But originally was the opening. Then I thought, no, that needs to go in its correct place chronologically and we’ll start somewhere else. So, yes, there always was a scheme to have something fairly arresting and, more importantly, an event that would bring fates of different characters into collision.

E.S.: The randomness of fate seems to be one of the most important parts of this novel. It reminded me once again, not how fragile we are, but how fragile fate can be.

I.M.: I often think that when people talk of coincidences that they’re almost bound to occur because we’re like so many atoms in a turbulent system or a gas under pressure. If you lead an averagely busy life, the number of people that you collide with, so to speak, is extraordinary. One could become your husband, or your wife, or, for that matter, your murderer. That random element in life is a gift to a novelist to make a pattern of it, to make some sense of it, to contest its meaning or even ask whether there’s any meaning to it at all. That’s part of the pleasure and unpredictability of writing a novel itself.

Read the rest here.

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