I’ve always considered myself a realist at heart. I’ve never written a book that violated physical principles. My books often have an atmosphere of the fantastic or
the surreal, but actually nothing happens in them that couldn’t happen in reality, so I don’t know if this book is that much of a departure in terms of realism.
What is the reason for putting so much literary theory at the start of your new novel?
There was a lot of literary theory in my life when I was in college, and as soon as I graduated, it began to fade away, as it does in my novel. It was a very passionate time for reading, as I recall, and a time when what you were reading was influencing the person you thought you were, or becoming, so I couldn’t imagine these characters without all the books they were reading.
The French literary theorists you speak about in the book – Derrida, Foucault and Barthes – are they writers you return to, and do you respect their work?
Jacques Derrida is a very important thinker and philosopher who has made serious contributions to both philosophy and literary criticism. Roland Barthes is the
one I feel most affinity for, and Michel Foucault, well, his writing influenced my novel, “Middlesex.” They are important writers for me, but I resist some of their more dire conclusions: the end of the novel, the inability to convey meaning in a text, and the death of the author.
Are you also poking fun at these writers at the same time?