Thursday, June 07, 2007

Gunter Grass on writing a story

As I get to the end of The Tin Drum before the moment is passed there was a great passage at the start of the book where Grass talks about how to write a story. For any budding writer (can budding also apply to someone completely dormant?) this is a particularly interesting part of the book.

“You can begin a story in the middle and create confusion by striking out boldly, backward and forward. You can be modern, put aside all mention of time and distance and, when the whole thing is done, proclaim, or let someone else proclaim, that you have finally, at the last moment, solved the space-time problem. Or you can declare at the very start that it's impossible to write a novel nowadays, but then, behind your own back so to speak, give birth to a whopper, a novel to end all novels. I have also been told that it makes a good impression, an impression of modesty so to speak, if you begin by saying that a novel can't have a hero any more because there are no more individualists, because individuality is a thing of the past, because man--each man and all men together--is alone in his loneliness and no one is entitled to individual loneliness, and all men lumped together make up a "lonely mass" without names and without heroes.”

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