Writers In Conversation with Jennifer Egan



so any of you who are here are probably already familiar with Jennifer's writing career she now has six books of fiction published five novels and one short story collection and she was getting excellent reviews before a visit from the goon squad won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011 I maybe I'm not alone in some of the book lovers who was a little bit skeptical of a goon squad before I read it I mean come on a chapter in PowerPoint isn't that a gimmick too far but I was so wrong I realized when I read the book that chapter is not only an example of how invented the book is but it sort of exemplifies its emotional power as well and it also shows how those two elements of the book are completely intertwined it is an emotionally powerful book because of how it is structured and how inventive it is and how much she plays with time and that's a question we'll ask her about in the second part of the talk um since then Jennifer in in addition to writing some journalistic articles for places like the New York Times magazine which has won her awards as well she's been working on this new book Manhattan Beach which we are lucky enough to hear from her read from her from here from her oh I'm gonna try that again I'm not doing it yet like we're lucky enough to hear her read from tonight Manhattan Beach is set in America as we are as America is beginning to enter World War two and it tells the story of Anna Kerrigan years after her father has mysteriously disappeared the as the book opens Anna fierce in the face of yet another loss decides to do two things one is to become one of the first women deep-sea divers for the US Navy and the other is to find what happened to her father Jennifer was born near Chicago grew up in San Francisco and lives now in New York City so it seems simply astonishing that here she is in lecture theater a at the University of Southampton so we're thrilled to have you Jennifer and thank you so much for making this happen my pleasure it is amazing I'm happy to be here thank you great so um we thought she would start by reading from her new book Manhattan Beach and then I'll ask her a few questions then she's going to read from goon squad and I'll ask a few more questions while you think of questions to ask Jennifer as well so thank you so I'm gonna read a kind of partial and slimmed down version of the first chapter and so it kind of requires no setup I think what you'll perceive instantly is that this is happening some years before the incidents that Carol is talking about it later in the book when Anna is becoming a diver and her father is not there the book is divided into sections and this first one is called the shore they driven all the way to mr. Stiles's house before Anna realized that her father was nervous first the ride had distracted her sailing along Ocean Parkway as if they were headed for Coney Island although it was four days past Christmas and impossibly cold for the beach then the house itself a palace of golden brick three storeys high windows all the way around a rowdy flapping of green and yellow striped awnings it was the last house on the street which dead ended at the sea her father eased the model Jay against the curb and turned off the motor tuts he said don't squint at mr. Stiles's house of course I won't squint at his house you're doing it now no she said I'm making my eyes narrow that's squinting he said you've just defined it not for me he turned to her sharply don't squint that was when she knew she heard him swallow dryly and felt a chirp of worry in her stomach she was not used to seeing her father nervous distracted yes preoccupied certainly why doesn't mr. Styles like squinting she says she asked no one does you never told me that before would you like to go home no thank you I can take you home if I squint if you give me the headache I'm starting to get if you take me home Anna said you'll be awfully late she thought he might slap her he'd done it once after she'd let fly a string of curses she had heard on the docks his hand finding her cheek invisibly as a whip the spectre of that slap still haunted Anna with the odd effect of heightening her boldness in defiance of it her father rubbed the middle of his forehead then looked back at her his nerves were gone she had cured them Anna he said you know what I need you to do of course be your charming self with mr. Stiles as children while I speak with mr. Stiles I knew that papa of course you did she left the model J with eyes wide and watering in the Sun it had been their own automobile until after the stock market crash now it belonged to the Union which leant it back for her father to do Union business and I like to go with him when she wasn't in school to racetracks Communion breakfasts and church events office buildings where elevators lofted them to high floors occasionally even a restaurant but never before to a private home like this mr. Stiles his daughter Tabitha was only 8 3 years younger than Anna still Anna allowed the littler girl to tow her by the hand to a downstairs nursery a room dedicated purely to playing filled with a shocking array of toys a quick survey discovered a Flossie flirt doll several teddy bears and a rocking horse there was a nurse in the nursery a freckled raspy-voiced woman whose woolen dress strained like an over stacked bookshelf to repress her massive bust Anna guessed from the broad lay of her face and the mary switch of her eyes that nurse was Irish and felt a danger of being seen through she resolved to keep her distance two small boys twins or at least interchangeable were struggling to attach electric train tracks partly to avoid nurse who were buffed the boys pleas for help and a crouched beside the disjointed tracks and proffered her services she could feel the logic of mechanical parts in her fingertips this came so naturally that she could only think that other people didn't really try they always looked which was as useless when assembling things as studying a picture by touching it Anna fastened the piece that was vexing the boys and took several more from the freshly opened box it was a Lionel train the quality of the tracks palpable in the resolve with which they interlocked as she worked Anna glanced occasionally at the Flossie flirt doll wedged at the end of a shelf she had wanted one so violently two years ago that some of her desperation seemed to have broken off and stayed inside her it was strange and painful to discover that old longing now in this place Tabitha cradled her new Christmas doll a Shirley Temple in a fox fur coat she watched entranced as Anna built her brother's train tracks where do you live she asked not far by the beach near it may I come to your house of course Anna said fastening tracks as fast as the boys handed them to her a figure-eight was nearly complete have you any brothers Tabitha asked a sister Anna said she's eight like you but she's mean because of being so pretty Tabitha looked alarmed how pretty extremely pretty Anna said gravely then added she looks like our mother who danced with the follies the error of this boast accosted her a moment later never part with a fact unless you have no choice her father's voice in her ears after lunch as a reward for their fine behavior nurse allowed them to bundle in two coats and hats and bolt from a back door along a path that ran behind mr. Stiles's house to a private beach a long arc of snow dusted his sand tilted down to the sea miniature waves shrugged up under skins of ice that crackled when she stomped them seagulls screamed and dove in the riotous wind their bellies stark white the Twins had brought along Buck Rogers ray guns but the wind turned their shots and death roads into pantomime Anna watched the sea there was a feeling she had standing at its edge an electric mix of attraction and dread what would be exposed if all of that water should suddenly vanish a landscape of lost objects sunken ships hidden treasure gold and gems and the charm bracelet that had fallen from her wrist into a storm drain dead bodies her father always added with a laugh to him the ocean was a wasteland your shoes are getting wet tabby said through chattering teeth should we take them off and asked to feel the cold I don't want to feel it I do tabby watched Anna unbuckle the straps of the black patent-leather shoes she shared with Zara Klein downstairs she unrolled her wolf stockings and placed her white bony long for her aged feet in the icy water each foot delivered an agony of sensation to her heart one part of which was a flame of ache that felt unexpectedly Pleasant what's it like tabby shrieked cold Anna said awful awful cold it took all of her strength to keep from recoiling and her resistance added to the odd excitement glancing toward the house she saw two men in dark overcoats following the paved path set back from the sand holding their hats in the wind they looked like actors in a silent picture are those our Papa's daddy likes to have business talks outdoors tabby said away from prying ears Anna felt benevolent compassion toward young tabitha excluded from her father's business affairs when anna was allowed to listen in whenever she pleased she heard little of interest her father's job was to pass greetings or good wishes between union men and other men who were their friends these salutations included an envelope sometimes a package that he would deliver or receive casually you wouldn't notice unless you were paying attention over the years he talked to Anna a great deal without knowing he was talking and she had listened without knowing what she heard she was surprised by the familiar animated way her father was speaking to mr. Stiles apparently they were friends after all that the men changed course and began crossing the sand toward Anna and tabby and a stepped hurriedly out of the water but she left her shoes too far away to put them back on in time mr. Stiles was a broad imposing man with brilliant aynd black hair showing under his hat-brim say is this your daughter he asked with standing arctic temperatures without so much as a pair of stockings and a sensed her father's displeasure so it is he said Anna say good day to mr. Stiles very pleased to meet you she said shaking his hand firmly as her father had taught her and taking care not to squint as she peered up at him mr. Stiles looked younger than her father without shadows or creases in his face she sensed an alertness about him a humming tension perceptible even through his billowing overcoat he seemed to await something to react to or be amused by right now that something was Anna mr. Stiles crouched beside her on the sand and looked directly into her face why the bare feet asked don't you feel the cold are you showing off Anna had no ready answer it was neither of those more an instinct to keep tabby odd and guessing but even that she couldn't articulate why would I show off she said I'm nearly 12 well what's it feel like she smelled mint and liquor on his breath even in the wind it struck her that her father couldn't hear their conversation it only hurts at first she said after a while you can't feel anything mr. Stiles grinned as if her reply were a ball he'd taken physical pleasure in catching words to live by he said then rose again to his immense height she's strong he remarked to Anna's father so she is her father avoided her eyes mr. Stiles brushed sand from his trousers and turned to go he'd exhausted that moment and was looking for the next they're stronger than we are and I heard him say to her father lucky for us they don't know it she thought he might turn and look back at her but he must have forgotten out there [Applause] it's so wonderful hearing that again having you know read the novel and see how much you're setting up and how many things are going to come back and sort of have meaning that we didn't maybe catch the first time it's really great you did you write that later on first I wrote it first and it was a surprise because I had been doing research for this book since about 2005 and I was writing other books along the way so I the keep in 2006 and then I continued researching and in some ways the research for this book I think sort of led to a visit from the goon squad which I can talk about but anyway by the I knew I knew a fair amount about some of the worlds of this book by the time I started I knew about a lot about the Brooklyn Navy Yard which is was the largest builder and repairer of Allied ships during the war in the world and I knew a lot about organized crime both Irish American and Italian American and I knew a fair amount about merchant shipping so I sort of III had some knowledge but I I sat down expecting to find myself writing about the Brooklyn Navy Yard and I was writing about this Beach so it's I my processes is geared toward my being surprised that's the whole goal of the way I write is to get beyond the thoughts I can have sitting in chair like I am now because they're not good enough the idea my ideas are not interesting enough I have to find things that I can't think of so I found myself on this Beach writing it that scene which changed a lot in the sense that the you know I write by hand in this very rough way and it's kind of chaotic and messy and often will have cliches in it just because I'm going so fast I'm not going to stop and try to think of the right word but the basic moves were exactly as I read them and it's the opposite of going back and planting seeds it's it's a matter of following those sea into all of the things they lead to hmm that's interesting there's been a lot of talk about this book being so different from goon squad because you know we don't have 13 different narrators and we don't have a PowerPoint and we don't have this or that and they talk about being a bit more traditional novel but I feel I mean you do take a lot of leaps in time and perspective here and also in this book time is also a goon well I thought that there would be more I wanted to fool around structurally with this book as I do in goon squad and I specifically thought I would use the device I use quite a bit in there of leaping into the future and having our knowledge of the outcome of events inform our experience of them in the moment interestingly while that device seemed to be you know useful in goon-squad it was disastrous whenever I tried it with this material it really broke the spell that we did that no one wanted to be pulled out of the moment and out of the illusion of this of a present happening at an earlier time and I have a writing group that I rely on quite a bit just to kind of let me know whether what I'm doing feels alive and there their reaction to these this trickiness that I kept trying to impose began with a sort of like oh yeah that's really not working and it ultimately became anger it was like why won't you stop we hate it please don't do that so I had to I I even thought 9/11 might somehow figure in this book when I started it so I had to let all of that go and what I found was that it was actually a relief to get rid of it I had been doing that stuff for so long and it was really fun to just kind of stay with the moment but I think we're somewhere there is kind of similarity is in bringing various genres together I mean I was thinking actively about the noir as I worked on this watching tons of noir movies and reading a a lot of extremely cheesy detective fiction as along with a lot of other stuff I love the idea of bringing together the noir which is a kind of urban sort of dislocated setting I loved combining that with domesticity those things that seem like they simply couldn't coexist and then I also loved the idea of bringing in the genre of basically a sea survival story I mean even as I'm saying this I'm thinking who would have thought that was a good idea to try to combine those things they seem like they can't be combined but my goal is always to try to make incompatible things coexist I think if I can do that effectively there's a kind of power in that so if something can be itself and it's opposite at the same time that's when I'm happiest like if someone is crazy and saying things that sound insane and yet they also make sense that makes me very happy so in a way this this genre collision is probably the point of contact between Manhattan Beach and goon squad and there are also a lot of characters so I do bring together a number I guess the one other thing is these various technical worlds I mean there's a kind of wonky side to this I had to learn a lot about deep-sea diving merchant sailing during World War Two the you know the the sea war of torpedos and ships and also the Brooklyn Navy Yard which is a very complex place that employed 70,000 people at the height of the war and and whose history goes back to the Revolutionary War so I guess that's you know the Noir this kind of technical stuff a domestic component and then a sea survival story with a lot of different characters that's the way in which it resembles going squad structurally it's very different yeah but to throw another genre in there I mean here we are in the land of Hilary mantel I mean it's it's a historical novel without defining like historical novel in this way that to me wilt although it's obviously a historical doesn't read like a historical novel well I'm hesitant to even say it because I feel like it's she's so good at what she does but I looked very carefully at her work too and asked myself how she did it and and I hope I learned a few things from her although I'm not saying I you know i think i made some rookie mistakes to probably but the thing that i that i really noticed about her work is that she doesn't ever try to you know pan across a landscape and give you all kinds of you know local color those those those historical novels are very interior where we rarely outside looking at london at that time and i thought that was very smart actually there was there's a great temptation to do that i think it comes from the movies honestly we're so used to getting the shot you know in put this book in the 30s and 40s it would be the boys playing marbles in the street and you know the boys playing stickball and the kids on the stoop and then oh then we get into the apartment and I actually did that at the beginning I have to confess but I could I could tell myself that it wasn't working and my writing group brought me up short on that stuff too they're tough another thing I really love about Hannah is her fierce sexuality both as a young girl and also as a young woman and I feel like it's sort of unusual in fiction you know because she's not sultry but she is some very sexual you know it's interesting I that was something I didn't necessarily know about her right at the start because she is you know obviously she's a kid when we meet her here and she's she's only 19 when when we meet her again at the Brooklyn Navy Yard 19 was a lot older then than it is now I mean we think of nineteen is like I mean as a parent of teenagers like you know they're teenagers but at that time you know girls were certainly getting married at that age and and we're expected to be helping to support their families if they were working-class so but but that actually is an example of I was uncomfortable with with what I thought would have to be her sexual innocence partly because I already had my first novel it's about an 18 year old who is very innocent or inexperienced innocent is a bad word and and part of the book is sort of about that awakening in her and and I thought I don't like the similarities here like it just felt boring to tell that story again and I thought okay well I'm not sure what to do about that but but I was also interviewing starting in about 2005 I began interviewing lots of people and I'm very glad I was doing it then because these were often people in their 80s at that time and many of them are no longer living and these were a lot of people who worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard especially women but also just longtime New Yorkers with good memories and one of them who is absolutely living and in fact very productive artist to this day is a guy named Alfred Leslie who was part of the abstract expressionist movement and and has made interesting work over many generations he grew up in New York and he must be almost 90 now and one thing he told me because he grew up in sort of tenement neighborhoods much like the ones I'm writing about he said there was a lot of sex going on there in no way were kids girls or boys sort of innocent as we think of it now I think he was talking a little more about the boys frankly but but I thought well that's interesting because that sort of gives me an opening into into something else that that I think will be useful for my character and for this story so that was true in a lot of ways a lot of the plot moves and even character aspects were informed by research just to give you one more example Dexter Stiles whom you may have sensed as a sort of underworld figure you know he his whole story in a way to some degree grew out of research one thing I hadn't realized is that gangsters in in America became kind of folded into mainstream society to some degree during Prohibition so alcohol was illegal in America from 1919 until 1933 it's a long time and guess what everyone still wanted to drink so organized crime basically became organized to take over the liquor industry and to handle the movement and sales and shipping of alcohol and that resulted in gangsters being part of kind of mainstream life in a way that they definitely are not now and so that also seemed like kind of an interesting thing that even though I already had sense that there was a sort of organized crime figure in the book a lot of things about his particular struggle and story because I write a lot from his point of view as well arose from that research so it really can work that way and he has a really interesting moment at the end of the book that I'm hoping you can talk about without I'm really avoiding spoilers yeah we really have to but he has a moment when he realized that what he had been yearning for he had accomplished and that was he wanted to he was American and I was wondering if you felt he was American because he had succeeded and when we see him in the opening chapter in this really wonderful house or because he was violent and I'm also sort of curious if you wrote that before Donald Trump was elected and it's just sort of what American is it's just really it's very complicated right now probably always has been but yes wondering if you're willing to yeah absolutely well I think what he I mean Dexter styles it that follows perfectly from what I was just saying as I researched some of these organized crime figures what I learned in a way is not as just what you might expect they were part of mainstream society especially nightlife because a lot of popular nightclubs began as speakeasies and then evolved into nightclub so you had a lot of you know gangsters and that was sort of mentioned as a kind of job like so and so the gangster runs a nightclub I mean who identifies themselves that way I mean isn't that supposed to be kind of secret but it was not and there was one gentleman Frank Costello who was a real crook he was identified as a crime boss and he lived in a fancy apartment building on Central Park with other you know fancy people who had jobs like you know act famous actor you know rich banker and then there was Frank Costello the crime boss living down the hall and and he and many others of these figures wanted to make the leap into actually just being fancy people you know mainstream people and and leaving behind the criminal part especially because now prohibition was over and so the liquor part of the job was not there anymore and in fact organized it's a fascinating story organized crime had to find more ways to make money and so that's when they started getting into things like prostitution and drug dealing that was much less common as an organized crime activity before prohibition ended but now they're these huge apparatus 'td and had had become to work together in part because even on a national level it helped a lot to have other crime organized crime units here and there when when it came to moving alcohol but the income stream ended and the question was how to fill it so it fascinated me to think of Dexter Stiles who basically used mob involvement as a tool for upward mobility became very you know very well not only wealthy but well-known he's you know he has his name in the papers he runs a sparkly nightclub with lots of important people there and so I love the thought of his wish to cross over and stop being a gangster and sort of cut those ties and and so that is kind of at the heart of his struggle and I'm so sorry but I'm slightly forgetting this second leg is coming in yeah about what what you had in mind when he said oh yes of course so he you know during World War two there was a lot of unity in in America as I think there was here there were certainly people who opposed the war and there was actually more disunity than I had realized before I started doing my research but there was basically a sense we all have to help you know defeat the Nazis and the Japanese and so for Dexter Stiles the this this engenders a worry about kind of what his position in all of this is because generally organized crime is a kind of shadow system that is not working in in unison with the federal government for example or law enforcement except in an illegal way paying people off etc so it creates a kind of existential problem for him and so what his discovery in that moment is that whether or not he can be an active part of all of that unity and the and the superpower that is that everyone at certain people sense is going to result from all this the American global superpower as we know it which was something that I was explicitly interested in the origins of whether or not he is part of that in a certain sense his kind of thuggish thuggish intelligent wily shape-shifting spirit is part of that American mix whether he's there or not and all of that is very American sadly Donald Trump is sort of the a good example of that kind of thuggish American spirit that can be very persuasive and powerful and when I first saw but we were just talking about this earlier when I first saw Donald Trump you know in the White House I thought it's as if a gangster were were president I mean everything about his demeanor is is is of that sort of ilk you know he has that kind of physical power there's a there's a kind of at times a sort of threatening edge to it a willingness to be extremely crude and and you know and and what's the word I want aggressive in ways that we're not used to seeing from someone occupying that position so his his presence there felt eerily familiar to me from my own research and even my own imagination I wanted to you to talk about you research of it and I'm going to Jennifer has told me it's okay to show this photograph that's Jennifer researching a deep-sea diver is a brief period that I was on my feet in that so can you talk about like you're a journalist as well you work as a journalist as well so how is it different to do your research and how you use your research and your writing for journalism versus fiction I mean assists it I mean it's very different how do you well the the approach that I use tends to be similar in other words a mix of archival research let's say you know an immersion and very wonky detail with visiting as many physical relevant physical places as I can and then above all just talking to people which always brings to life all the rest of it so that was kind of how I approached I mean I found out it through my research at the Brooklyn Navy Yard the deep-sea diving was an important part of ship repair I had not known that and seeing someone in that with that rather iconic looking diving suit gave me a feeling that I needed to write about that which I've learned to just trust there's very little logic to it I mean I've never even scuba dived I have no experience diving I don't know what it feels like and I'm afraid to do it frankly but just the sight of a civilian diver from the World War 2 era wearing a suit like that led me on a very long fabulous excursion into the world of deep-sea diving so I quickly fell in with these two gentlemen Frenchy Louisville and Jim Heim back on the left they are veteran army divers both master divers so they had a very high rank and they were not diving during World War two obviously you can just see that looking at them but they are part of a very tight-knit community of army divers and they meet every other year one of the attractions of meeting is the chance to actually dive in the old heavy gear the mark-5 as this is known which actually even these two guys Dovan in their careers during Vietnam which tells you how long this suit was worn which was actually a relevant piece of diving equipment it's sort of incredible its diving equipment changed hardly at all from the beginning of the 20th century until the 1960s it's incredible anyway so I they invited me to go to the reunion and I said absolutely so this was in 2009 goon squad had was not even finished yet when I was when I was doing that so we went to the reunion and they said well we can dress you in the mark-5 and they did which was great although very painful it's it's a 200 pound suit and and even the word of VA you know you don't put on the suit that the diving apparatus is basically assembled around you and it's a little like being encased inside a machine that helmet actually screws into the collar like a light bulb that belt those those belt components are made of lead but anyway it was amazing it was great and actually the thing that you know I don't think I needed to have worn that to write persuasively about how uncomfortable it would be to wear 200 pounds but the thing that and this is another example of how research in some ways engendered the story or elements of it what I hadn't expected was the intimacy of being dressed by those guys I knew them just a little but the the job of the two tenders and that's the role those two are playing is to first of all dress the diver and then to keep the diver safe and alive while the diver is diving and a diver usually has two tenders and so there's a kind of intimacy about that relationship and in a certain sense the the thing that they are helping you with is your physical person they're they're dressing that physical person and then they're going to make sure that that physical person continues to get oxygen and has the things that he or she needs to stay alive so it's a very physical encounter and at first I was kind of uncomfortable I mean I was standing there in long underwear and these guys were like kind of moving me around and I thought oh I mean I had kind of talked to them I had interviewed them but this felt sort of strange to be suddenly being kind of held by them it didn't seem strange to them at all because they spent you know decades doing this this is their career but that this the startling intimacy of that relationship was it was was very surprising to me and and that I might not have thought of in fact I doubt I could have really thought of it in the way that it happens and then each diver is also a tender for the other divers so everyone alternates those roles and so that was very interesting another great thing that happened at that reunion was that I actually interviewed a gentleman who did dive during World War two in the harbor of Cherbourg where he was helping to do salvage work clearing out all the debris that the Germans exploded there to try to keep the Allies from using the harbour and he was amazing this old gentleman named Jim Kennedy and he I said did you ever encounter a female diver at all during World War two and he said yes and Cherbourg he had met a Russian female who was diving and I wanted to learn more about her of course I was intrigued so I was planning to interview Jim Kennedy in the next couple of months and he abruptly passed away which is always the danger with someone in their 80s even in great health so I never had that chance but I I ran with that HUF that anonymous female diver I was that was all the permission I needed great well I think we'd like to hear from goon squad now don't we think I was tempted to have Jennifer bring a PowerPoint of her PowerPoint chapter since we're in lecture theater a well you can view that in color with a soundtrack on my website yes excellent although now I have a new website that is actually very fun for Manhattan Beach with lots of pictures it's the informational stuff is above the water and then if you go under the water there's a whole you can watch the whole series of me putting on that dress but also a lot of photos from the Navy Yard old interim and present because it's actually continued changing a lot and a lot of photos of Liberty ships that I took on a ship called the Jeremiah O'Brien which is a still functioning Liberty ship in San Francisco so but you can also if you go to the book section and click on goon-squad you can enter my old website which is archived and that has the PowerPoint with a soundtrack in color and I'm embarrassed to admit how much fun I had adding the color I kept thinking this is amazing this is right I'm writing and then I thought of a certain point no I'm just choosing between shades of orange let's not get too carried away here and another funny thing is I had never actually given a PowerPoint presentation until a week ago when I created a PowerPoint presentation of photos about the research for Manhattan Beach so I actually didn't know how to use PowerPoint even having created a PowerPoint I didn't know how to connect it to a computer I had to advance the slides and like stand underneath and talk about them so I mean I figured I was starting with chapter one with the other I will start with chapter one here and just read a slimmed down version of the early part of it found objects it began the usual way in the bathroom of the Lhasa MO hotel sasha was adjusting her yellow eyeshadow in the mirror when she noticed a bag on the floor beside the sink that must have belonged to the woman who's peeing she could faintly hear through the vault like door of a toilet stall inside the rim of the bag barely visible was a wallet made of pale green leather it was easy for Sasha to recognize looking back that the peeing woman's blind trust had to provoked her we live in a city where people will steal the hair off your head if you give them half a chance but you leave your stuff lying in plain sight and expect it to be waiting for you when you come back it made her want to teach the woman a lesson but this wish only camel the deeper feeling Sasha always had that fat tender wallet offering itself to her hand it seemed so dull so life as usual – just leave it there rather than seize the moment accept the challenge take the leap fly the coop throw caution to the wind live dangerously I get it cause her therapist said and take the thing you mean steal it he was trying to get Sasha to use that word which was harder to avoid in the case of a wallet than with a lot of the things she lifted over the past year when her condition as cause referred to it had begun to accelerate five sets of keys 14 pairs of sunglasses a child's striped scarf binoculars a cheese grater a pocketknife 28 bars of soap and 85 pens ranging from cheap ballpoints she used to sign debit card slips to the aubergine Visconti that cost $260 online which she'd lifted from her former bosses lawyer during a contract meeting sasha no longer took anything from stores they're cold and dirt goods didn't tempt her only from people so I'm gonna now skip so she takes the wallet and she goes back to her date and they decide to go somewhere else and continue their date there Sasha and Alex crossed the lobby of the Lhasa MO hotel in the direction of the street Sasha hugged her purse to her shoulder the warm ball of wallet snuggled in her armpit as they passed the angular abutted branches by the big glass doors to the street a woman zigzagged into their path wait she said you haven't seen I'm desperate Sasha felt a twang of terror it was the woman whose wallet she had taken she knew this instantly although the person before her had nothing in common with the Blythe a tray inherit wallet owner she'd pictured this woman had vulnerable brown eyes and flat pointy shoes that clicked too loudly on the marble floor there was plenty of grey and her frizzy brown hair Sascha took Alex's arm trying to steer him through the doors she felt his pulse of surprise at her touch but he stayed put have we seen what he said someone stole my wallet my ID is gone and I have to catch a plane tomorrow morning I'm just desperate she stared beseechingly at both of them it was the sort of Frank need that New Yorkers quickly learned how to hide and Sasha recoiled it had never occurred to her that the woman was from out of town have you called the police Alex asked the concierge said he would call but I'm also wondering couldn't have fallen out somewhere she looked helplessly at the marble floor around their feet Sasha relaxed slightly this woman was the type who annoyed people without meaning to apology shadowed her movements even now as she followed Alex to the concierge desk Sasha trailed behind is someone helping this person she heard Alex ask the concierge was young and spiky-haired we've called the police he said defensively Alex turned to the woman where did this happen in the ladies room I think who else was there no one it was empty there might have been someone but I didn't see her Alex swung around – Sasha you were just in the bathroom he said did you see anyone no she managed to say she had xanax in her purse but she couldn't open her purse even with it zipped she feared that the wallet would blurt into view in some way that she couldn't control unleashing a cascade of Horrors arrest shame poverty death Alex turned to the concierge how come I'm asking these questions instead of you he said someone just got robbed in your hotel don't you have like security the words robbed and security managed to pierce the soothing backbeat that through not just the lassi MO but every hotel like it in New York City there was a mild ripple of interest from the lobby I've called security the concierge said adjusting his neck I'll call them again Sascha glanced at Alex he was angry and the anger made him recognizable in a way than an hour of aimless chatter mostly her as it was true had not he was new to New York he came from someplace smaller he had a thing or two to prove about how people should treat one another two security guys showed up the same on TV and in life beefy guys whose scrupulous politeness was somehow linked to their willingness to crack skulls they dispersed to search the bar Sascha wished feverishly that she left the wallet there as if this were an impulse she'd barely resisted I'll check the bathroom she told Alex and forced herself to walk slowly around the elevator Bank the bathroom was empty Sascha opened her purse took out the wallet on earth true vial of xanax and popped one between her teeth they worked faster if you chewed them as the caustic taste flooded her mouth she scanned the room trying to decide where to ditch the wallet in the stall under the sink the decision paralyzed her she had to do this right to emerge unscathed and if she could if she did she had a frenzied sense of making a promise to cause the bathroom door opened and the woman walked in her frantic eyes met Sasha's in the bathroom mirror narrow green equally frantic there was a pause during which Sasha felt that she was being confronted the woman knew had known all along Sascha handed her the wallet she saw from the woman's stunned expression that she was wrong I'm sorry Sascha said quickly it's a problem I have the woman opened the wallet her physical relief and having it back course – through Sascha in a warm rush as if their bodies had fused everything's there I swear she said I didn't even open it it this problem I have but I'm getting help I just please don't tell I'm hanging on by a thread the woman glanced up her soft brown eyes moving over Sasha's face what did she see Sasha wished that she could turn and peer in the mirror again is if something about herself might at last be revealed some lost thing but she didn't turn she held still and let the woman look it struck her that the woman was close to her own age her real age she probably had children at home okay the woman said looking down it's between us Thank You Sasha said thank you thank you relief and the first gentle waves of xanax made her feel faint and she leaned against the wall she sensed the woman's eagerness to get away she longed to slide to the floor there was a rap on the door a man's voice any luck that's just such a brilliantly written chapter as they all are and that book it's just so how you go from it feels like a live scene and then suddenly were in the she's telling it to the therapist and then stacked a live scene and it's just so just so expertly crafted thank you great one of the things I think I mentioned to you that we teach a module here called great writer steel and we read your book in conjunction with Bruce it's sort of lost time because apparently you were inspired by that so can you talk about that yeah I mean I read I had read some of Proust when I was when I was younger but I found a little dull especially all the stuff about time I just thought well 22 why would anyone care it seemed more relevant when I returned to the book in my late 30s and I actually read all of Proust in a book group it took us six years so I guess I was in my mid 30s when we started and we actually gave birth among us to five children in our lives unfolded in real time with with the kind of real time unfolding of in search of lost time and as I was reading it I thought I just loved the fact that time itself is the subject when in a certain way time is kind of the subject or at least an essential ingredient in the novel form generally I mean the the you know the passage of time is what allows action to unfold and what and so in a way and certainly every novel is about time but I love the fact that time was so explicitly the subject I've been searched the last time and I thought how would you do that now how could I write a book in which time was actually the subject and I was also watching The Sopranos right around the same time and I and I think that and I was fascinated by the serialized nature of the storytelling which was so familiar from the nineteenth-century novel and the cut that you know the kind of polyphonic quality of it the many characters that the the subplots and in some ways almost the the buried nature of the overarching story like sometimes who knew at the end of the season you figured out what it was all about but in the moment I was just watching for particular people and their own stories and so I I had been thinking you know it's there a way to use to use some of those techniques in fiction of course the answer is yes because it was done throughout the nineteenth century but I guess I returned to it you know it we the sopranos stole it from you know George Eliot and then I stole it from The Sopranos but I I think I somehow without doing it consciously exactly I think in asking the question of how I could write about time in a contemporary way the answer was using the techniques of The Sopranos and so that's really how I think I came to write it although once again as with Manhattan Beach I blundered into it fairly blindly I didn't realize I was even writing a book until I had a few chapters so in a way a lot of the technical choices had already been made I did not sit down and say oh I'm gonna write a book in which every chapter feels like it's part of a different book no I was writing what I thought were unruly you know disparate short stories so of course they were different technically so yeah so that's kind of how that I think that's really what the relationship to Proust is yeah well what's interesting about that book there is no present time of the story each chapter is its own present time right and that's fascinating I think that the I mean that again came a little bit from the the inadvertent way that I began it just writing stories but I think also I really wanted to avoid nostalgia nostalgia implies a specific present from which we are all agreeing to look back at this time that is a source of longing but I didn't I wasn't interested in that I think because my first novel is very much about nostalgia it's about longing for the 1960 it's about nostalgia for a time that one hasn't experienced which is as I'm sure there's a long German word for that but I was interested in the power of the 1960s on the Amer can 60s counterculture on the American imagination and that era as a source of nostalgia even for people like me who really didn't experience it in the first place because I was just a little kid so and that's what the invisible circus is about in large part so I didn't want to do that again and of course nostalgia is different for everyone I mean I came to New York and I learned to my mind to my chagrin that I the best days of New York were over long over or not maybe not so long maybe they had been recently but they were definitely over and I realized that there was something in common about all of these stories of the best days of New York being gone the best days were always when that person had first come to New York so what what the best times were was a subject of debate and so in a way you know nostalgia is if I it's it's partly not interesting because we're all nostalgic for different things in different times so I was very determined I think in goon-squad not to agree on what the present is and therefore what the past is but to look more on at how those layers of experience work together in our memories and our imaginations and Koontz car was such a wild success but is it difficult to write Manhattan Beach I think it would have been difficult under any circumstances to write Manhattan Beach because I think it the it was uniquely hard for me to write a book set outside my lifetime because time and place are the only points of connection that I ever have to my work in the first place I don't use my own life it doesn't work and I'm bored by it I don't use people I know that's too bad because there there have been some good ones but I do it badly much the relief of my friends and family they're not afraid and but but times and places I really do use so in goon squad you know the punk rock scene of the 70s in San Francisco is something I witnessed you know pretty much every time in place I write about in there is something that felt real to me with a lot of textures that I have a very good memory I'm terrible memory for a lot of things but a very good memory for my life especially places I feel almost like I could still walk through you know rooms I visited haven't visited in decades it's just sort of how my mind works and even my dreams are very architectural in their nature so to move outside of my lifetime therefore making it impossible to use any times in places that I remembered was unbelievably hard and I actually thought I might not be able to do it it for a while this book was so hard to to make viable it was so hard for me to get to feel I knew enough to really move around and do my thing which means finding absurdity humor as I mentioned before you know mixing things that that shouldn't rightly coexist I was I was none of that was really working I wasn't able to do it I felt very stiff and so there were about two years where I felt like this book just might not work and I think having had so much success with goon-squad definitely made those two years harder than they would otherwise have been which already was kind of hard because it's not fun to be poor in years of your life and do a project you think probably won't work so I did I worried that I would you know that I that I my best work was behind me that I would never write another book etc I truly worried about it and and then I I sort of got through that by thinking you know okay well fair enough I mean if I if I've got nothing better then I guess it's time for me to stop I mean you know it's not like the world owes me a great career I had already had a lot of good luck and I thought you know I'll just I'll be a journalist that's a great thing to do some say what someone would say someone would say it matters a lot more than this other stuff so and then giving myself permission to basically tack with the new book was helpful because then I I think I felt a little less you know agitated over what the result would be and could just focus on doing my work and and and coming to to know enough that I finally couldn't move and have fun yeah all right it's your turn who's ready with a question clearly [Laughter] well that's a great question so this is about a story novella really called black box that I wrote in the form of tweets and it was tweeted by the New Yorker and then it also appeared in full and I hope will be part of my next book and so the question is okay where it takes place in the future sort of roughly the 2030s if we kind of do the math about it's a minor character from goon squad is the subject of it and so the question was well how do they how do times and places from my own life fit into that the answer is slightly I mean it's interesting moving into the future of course I'm in a way as ill-equipped to to write that in terms of memory as I am to to write about the distant past but somehow it's a little bit easier than writing about the past in that case black box centers around a particular house in the South of France a kind of estate where this where a young woman young is she's in her 30s is a part of a civilian spying program and she's posing as she's just sort of they're called beauties but really her job is to cozy up to powerful potentially violent men and get information out of them to send back to the US government using equipment that is inside her body I guess that sort of precis of what that case is about the the the actual location of the house where she's doing this was based on a place that I visited once that left a huge impression on me and I had thought again and again I would like to try to write about that house it was on the Mediterranean I think I loved the sort of mythical echoes of that somehow and I was drawn a much as I was drawn to the the image of that diving suit without quite knowing why or where it would lead I had thought over many years about that house which I only spent a few days in and thought I really want to find a story set there I also explicitly wanted to write in for Twitter much in the way I wanted to use PowerPoint before I could find a story that would live in PowerPoint one thing I've really learned and this speaks to my lack of success in imposing a kind of structural trickiness on Manhattan Beach is that radical structural ideas only work at least in my experience if the story you're writing that way could not be told conventionally could only be told in that way in the PowerPoint chapter it's a very a sort of sentimental story in which very little happens it would I promise you be very bad written conventionally but PowerPoint is an atomized form and almost impossible to portray action in PowerPoint it's just not possible so that that suited my rather static tale well also PowerPoint is very cold and corporate in its vibe which I think offset the potentially treacly sweetness of the story that I'm telling in PowerPoint so I think I lucked into and it was trial and error believe me because I tried other things in PowerPoint first into finding a story that I couldn't tell any other way in the case of Twitter I wanted to write in Twitter and I thought so what's what what kind of story wants to be told this way and I think the answer I came up with it's a little hard to answer this because I can only really understand it later but I had been interested in stories in the form of lists for a long time has lists reveal a lot of information inadvertently I mean if you look at someone's grocery list they're not saying I like spinach and my kids like bran muffins and I'm gonna get a treat for them tonight so I'm gonna get some marshmallows or whatever you just see bran muffin mix marshmallows spinach but there's a story kind of inherent in that list and I and that that inadvertent storytelling really interested me and I at least for me getting an iPhone has proliferated my list making it to an almost frightening degree I believe they're over 400 with many of them long-forgotten I'm sure repetitive but one of the lists I began keeping on my phone was lessons learned and I would put in what I had learned from things I had done wrong so one of the lessons I learned was don't get a Christmas tree that's so fat it blocks all the light from the window that it's in front of and I think what I wrote was get it get a thinner Christmas tree but when I looked at it later it made me laugh because I could sort of Intuit what had gone wrong there with the fat tree and so then I thought well wouldn't it be fun to just tell a whole story just in the form of the lessons someone learns from each thing that happens but not telling any action in a straightforward way and somehow that curiosity dovetailed with a few other queries that were floating through my head and this house and that's how I came to write it really and then the question always is I mean that that's also theoretical what happens when you actually start trying to write it that's that's what really matters and in the case of the black box story I could feel right away that there was a kind of excitement about the voice now I was not I was writing it by hand as I always do and I that was another thing I kept thinking I want to write this Twitter story and I would try like writing lines across a page but just the look of them was really wrong it just didn't seem right but then I found a Japanese notebook which consisted of eight rectangles on every page and it looked just about right for me to write tweet size things by hand so I actually wrote the first draft in that notebook and then ultimately of course I had to type it and then I did have these frustratingly long lines but I you know it's a story in which each structural unit is a lesson derived from what we can easily sense is the action of the story and so various components kind of came together and and the atmosphere of it was and the voice of it felt alive to me from very early and so that's why I continued with it I have notions like these that go nowhere but that one kind of went somewhere yes Peter everyone here that why hint at connections between people like the fact that the black box character is from goon squad rather than making it explicit I think that my you know again I think it dates back to one of the organizing principles of goon squad which which actually derives from the fact that it consisted of independent stories originally which is that I liked the fact that every single one stands completely on its own and does not require any sort of connection to anything else and so having accepted that as one of the basic ideas of the book I didn't like the idea of implying that there were connections that the reader has to make because there really aren't and even so people felt frustrated they would say I I think I missed things I didn't get it and my reaction was if you think you're reading 13 stories that have nothing to do with each other there's you've still gotten that there's nothing to get I mean if if it if it can fuse and become more than the sum of the parts and hat and feel like it's one big story that's certainly what I was going for but I felt that if I was asking the reader to start over every single time I had to provide a complete payoff every single time and so for example when the when the New Yorker editor bought black box she had not picked up on the fact that it was a character from goon squad until we started working on it and she suddenly went oh my god that's Lulu but I don't want to I don't want to have anything happen because of those connections in other words I wouldn't want people to – that's the what am I trying to say I I want it to stand completely on its own knowing nothing and I can only be sure of that if I don't give away that those connections exist and leave them to the reader someone else yes so the question is you know what is the relationship if any between goon squad and 911 how did it how does it how is it a response to those events I think that the the way in which it is is that in New York it was a real before-and-after moment and that we all felt that instantly and in a way the fact that really goon squad and Manhattan Beach to some extent respond to it it really really shows you how crucial that event was I mean every day I ride the subway over the Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan and every single time I look and I think those buildings are gone I mean it was it was just so immense it turned New York into a war zone overnight which i think is what led me to Manhattan Beach quite directly that and the questions about American global power and how it felt to know that that was gathering with with goon squad what I what I found was that it was I really enjoyed writing about New York before 9/11 that happened and so initially the question of whether 9/11 had happened or not was was an organizing principle of the book so it was divided into two parts and one I one was after 9/11 and then I loved the thought of going the the book that by the way the chronology was continuous it went backward and so half of them were after 9/11 and then we're going back back back and then there's 9/11 which I don't describe at all and then we're go for 9/11 the only that's one of those fun kind of conceptual ideas that you think should really work well unfortunately it worked quite poorly at the book read the book gathered no power in that with that structure it gathered no tension there were it just was lame I mean it was okay it was okay and no more and so I thought wow what a drag I was really hoping this would be better than that it was the first time I had read them all together because I wanted to keep the feeling of each part very different from all of the others so worked on them very separately and I didn't kind of line them up at all and then I realized that my organizing principle of this before 9/11 and after 9/11 in which 9/11 is kind of this fulcrum actually didn't serve the material well and that I was denying the reader a lot of surprises and payoffs that were much stronger if I let curiosity be my organizing principle rather than 9/11 and so that's why I came to organize the book as I did you know we're thinking about this there's one example in the chapter I was reading from just now there's a quick mention of Sasha's ex boss Benny Salazar who will actually know that's not a good example in the next chapter about Benny Salazar he reminisces about having been a punk rocker in my backwards chronology we don't read the chapter in which he is a punk rocker for like eight more chapters we've got to get from 2006 to two seventy-nine so it's a little way toward the end of the book at that point the reader has completely forgotten this punk rock reference so that the curiosity the payoff of curiosity that hopefully the reader feels in my current progression was completely lost so this is a long way of saying 9/11 was an important structural feature that I ultimately had to get rid of altogether yes I think the the paradox of time is is that it's always both I mean the question was so is time a healer or is it is it about loss I think one of the things that's I mean there it's one of the strange things about looking back is that there's often a feeling of loss even if nothing bad has happened you know for example having children you know looking back on when they were little I mean my children knock wood are alive and well and hopefully will be so for inside while I'm on this earth and yet sometimes when I think about them being little I feel this kind of sadness as if something were lost but nothing's been lost but that's kind of how looking back can feel so I think I mean it's it's it's a strange passage in that it you know it certainly makes trauma for example what you mentioned bearable it's probably the number one advantage of time passing and yet it in itself change is inevitably I think we humans perceive change as loss changing landscapes changing personal lives I mean I read one book that I read that was wonderfully helpful for Manhattan Beach was an oral history of Manhattan from the 1890s until the Second World War so a long time ago but this guy got started on this and he found people stupido who had lived in various neighborhoods even during the Gilded Age in the late 19th century and what a refrain of these interviews is bemoaning the change in New York which is so funny because I feel like all those wonderful pre-war buildings they're taking down oh no they were bemoaning the pastors and the the gardens that we're disappearing to build those buildings I loved so much so you know they're there there's there's a feeling of loss you know all the way through and yet thank God time passes because I'm sure we all have things that have become easier with the passage of time yes go ahead Sally hi I love that you're picking it's so easy I feel so bad when I don't choose me well I didn't really need permission to have a female diver but I don't know of any in in America even close to that time I mean the first female Army diver didn't dive until the early eighties I'm not sure it probably happened earlier in the Navy there are a lot more divers in the Navy I think it was more the the I mean there's a strange tension between the the need to know everything to write authoritative ly especially about people at work it's very difficult to write about people at work if you don't know what you're talking about because people who have jobs know a lot about those jobs and the areas of work that I'm writing about our you know deep-sea diving ship repair being a gangster and the Merchant Marine so I had to know a tremendous amount about all of these things and that's one thing that made the book so challenging and yet on some level I also have to feel absolutely free to invent so sometimes I'm looking for a kind of I don't know what I what the analogy would be I'm looking for a sort of a backstage pass that I've doctored to get me to a place that's not really supposed to take me and I think that just hearing of that Russian diver felt like a little sort of just a little tap of permission I would have done it anyway I was already planning to I wouldn't have been at the reunion if I hadn't been pretty interested in diving but it was a nice a nice little point of contact that I felt comfortable extrapolating from and putting a woman into the water in 1942 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard where I'm 99.999% certain no woman dived yes Charlotte the question was did I always plan that the stories would connect and goon-squad or did that kind of happen by accident I think the answer is kind of both I mean I began writing stories to basically procrastinate starting Manhattan Beach and I wrote three that were going backward in time and I think that's why I thought ah this is a book that moves you know directly back chronologically backward and they and that the fun thing about those for me was that they were connected so I was grabbing you know a peripheral character sometimes someone only just mentioned or an event just mentioned and and then making that my subject so there was that kind of fun swooping feeling then the other this is something I don't talk about that much because it just gets kind of complicated but your question leads right into it I had four stories that I had written in the 90s and published that were unrelated to each other in any way and I began to feel that I that I wanted to find a way to for those to connect to these three connected stories that I had written and so it was very strange feeling to have those connections happened and felt incredibly organic for those of you who have read it you'll understand what I mean by organic because I start this book with Sasha stealing a wallet and one of the stories that was completely unrelated and had a protagonist at that time named Madeleine is called goodbye my love in which a young woman steals her uncle's wallet in Naples so those two I had written that and published it like 10 years earlier it's kind of crazy so it felt very much as if it meant to be as if it was meant to be like Islands I hadn't realized we're connected by a single landmass some of those and finding those connections made for some of the most interesting things about the book for me more questions yes so music is really important in goon-squad that the industry and what about music drove character and place first of all I should mention I'm glad you said that because I forgot to say that music is a big point of connection between in search of lost time and goon-squad music it's incredibly important in in that novel there are pieces first of all it's compose it's a it's an organizing principle for one it's it's composed in a very musical way with light motifs there is also a piece of music that plays an important role in in the Proust so I think in a way it was it was probably inevitable that music would come in in some way in my book which was such a response to in search of lost time I also as a journalist had had some failure trying to get assigned a workable piece about the music industry I just it I don't know what it was like it just never would work out I mean part of it was that I was writing for The Times magazine they had a very good music journalist and I had no real connections in that field and then I was assigned a story finally about these identical twin rappers female which was incredibly fun to work on but then it was at like a part of an issue about debuts and the whole point was that their album was going to debut and I was writing about the process of it that happening and then I began to realize at a certain point that their album actually didn't seem to be coming out like nothing was really happening so as soon as I told my editor she said up you're off that story and I was like oh my god again so I I think I had I wanted to learn about the industry and in the end I think this music connection with the Proust gave me an excuse to do what I had been dying to do which was learn about the music industry and as soon as I just to write the second chapter about Benny Salazar at work this is back to the work thing he's a music producer what do they do I mean you have to know more than a couple of things to write authoritative Lee about the textures of a day of someone doing a certain kind of work people who have jobs like that generally have a whole store of knowledge acquired over years and opinions things they're angry about it's not easy to write about people at work you have to know a lot and you can you can tell in a minute when you're reading fiction about the workplace in which someone did 20 minutes of research it just feels like window dressing there's no depth there so I began just to write this the story which I didn't even realize as part of a book yet because that was one of those first three that I thought were just going to be stand-alones about Benny at work I started having long conversations with a music producer and what became so clear was that he was grieving over the demise of his industry I mean I you know I was thinking about the before and after a moment that that 9/11 was for New York but for people in the music industry there was a before and after two before their industry was absolutely gutted by Napster and after and that after is is still in question I mean it's very hard to make money as a musician that's why people you know I mean the Rolling Stones are gonna be touring when they're 90 they have to so it so that was fascinating because music was looking the music business seemed to be really interesting lens through which to look at time passing and of course one thing about all of the devices that we carry with us all the time is that we have our own playlists which at least in my case is composed a lot of music that is meaningful to me for various reasons having to do with the past so music is kind of a time machine which i think is why Proust was so interested in in it so basically I don't know if I'm answering your question I'm telling you kind of why music was so essential to that book and then of course what music matters to different people in the book depends a lot on their era so it's there isn't a kind of musical present and a musical past exactly although you know the punk-rock moment I think resonates as what a lot of the characters are thinking back on interestingly that punk rock I did like punk rock music but I loved 60s music so that's not really my musical my musical nostalgia isn't for punk rock it's for what came before it's for what punk rock was reacting against but to some degree the characters are defined by the the way in which music what kind of music is meaningful to them from their own path one more question if we have one okay would I like to see my books made into films my first novel did become a film it was not it was a good experience in the sense that I learned a lot from from seeing it happen and so I I guess because that experience was basically positive I'm very open to it I mean I do sell film rights I think it can probably go very wrong I understand why there was one script of the keep that I read that was just appalling and I was so glad when that project died because characters who were not murderers in my book became murderers and that is a big personality change so I found that that that really made my pulse race with horror at the thought of that movie getting made but it didn't I I'm I knew I I'm open to it and and you know everything is always in you know optioned but very little actually happens goon squad was wasn't is under consideration for TV series first by HBO and then many other places it could be fun I don't know yeah I love the thought of you know of some of another vision leaping off from mine and I I do think that the most successful films derive from books probably take the most liberties I mean I'm thinking of something like The English Patient you know it you have to be willing to just to let someone do something different and not just shoot the book because the book isn't written to be shot and it probably will be mediocre in that case but I'm always game to watch people do something fun and interesting even if it fails I would be open to it sure all right well thank you Jennifer so much thanks and thank all of you for attending I could just tell how completely enthralled you were if everything Jennifer was saying it's very gratifying to have such a wonderful audience on behalf of the English department and writers in conversation in human worlds festival thank you so much for being here and there are Flyers around and about for the human worlds festival which is I think tonight is the very first night and those literary highlights for those include the novelist Claire fuller is going to be here our own creative writing professor Philip poor Philip in fact is here tomorrow night and then you have a second chance to see Philip who is our last writer and conversation this semester on December 4th can i interject one thing yeah I just want to make sure people know that I'm happy to sign books and continue the conversation outside yeah yeah we hold three writers and conversations every semester we're still working on the lineup for next term but we can't announce that whit stillman the scriptwriter and director of films including love and friendship will be our guest on April 30th we'll be putting up links etc on our blog so please join us in the North corridor which if you take a right and then another right at these doors for a wine reception which is courtesy of human worlds festival and October books our local independent bookstore is selling books jennifer is very very happy to sign those books or if you've brought books along and imagine how good to do that too and and that's pretty much it so thank you again for being here and Jennifer was just fabulous thank you Thanks you

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