Exactly like sweets, Nick Hornby essays can’t be kept for the next day.  I read the others today.  Here’s an opinion that made me think:

I appreciate that I’m in a minority here, but I just don’t get the appeal of the reappearing hero.  I don’t get Kay Scarpetta, or James Bond, or Hercule Poirot.  I don’t even get Sherlock Holmes.  My problem is that, when I’m reading a novel, I have a need– a childish need, B.S. Johnson would argue– to believe that the events described therein are definitive, that they really matter to the characters.  In other words, if 1987 turned out to be a real bitch of a year for Winston Smith, then I don’t want to be wasting my time reading about what happened to him back in ’84.

Now, this is an opinion I don’t necessarily share, but it’s interesting and, more to the point, teaches something about writing that hadn’t occurred to me quite that way before.  Of course we want to make engaging characters, and we know that something has to happen to them.  But is it the most important thing in their lives?  If not, why aren’t you writing about that?

(There are no rules in writing, only heuristics… sure, you can violate this one.  But it’s something you should think long and hard about.)

Pointless trivia: The Believer had a rule about not slagging other writers, so on the occasions he hated a book, he’d suppress the name.  But one book he hated I both recognized and liked– one of Kyril Bonfiglioli’s thrillers.   I’d have thought his combination of noir and Wodehouse would amuse him, but no.  I think it’s politics– you might think they’re all the same, but those Brits have politics of their own; Bonfiglioli was clearly a Tory.

I also learned that not only was High Fidelity moved from London to Chicago for the film version, but his first book, Fever Pitch, a memoir about supporting the Arsenal soccer team, became a movie about the Boston Red Sox.  This is a Hornbyesque sort of thing to happen, isn’t it?  It seems bewildering that your life can be moved to a foreign country, and translated from the things it’s about into other things, in order to be more accessible to viewers.  Though I guess if the inevitable film about my life is made, and I turn out to be French or Chinese, I’d probably be strangely flattered.

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