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CB: You know, some of the books are in as many as 23 languages. The Russian response to these books is passionate. The Korean response to these books is passionate. A lot of that is to do with, I believe, a kind of mythic commonality. Something which proves Jung right. That the images which move us at root are common whatever culture you live in. There are Eden stories and there are flood stories and there are crucified god stories. And there are stories of animal spirits, there are stories of journeys taken into fantastic cities and so on and so forth across the planet.

One of the things I try to do in my fiction is strip it of particulars. Like there are no references to what kind of cigarettes people smoke. What kind of booze is going down their throats. There are very few references to movies. I hate it when writers stoop to, as I see it, something which is so particular that it's almost as if they're making a cultural reference to give you shorthand to the feeling.

R: Like Ian Fleming.

CB: Yeah, yeah exactly. But let me give you a -- for me -- much more intense example. Are you familiar with Angels in America? You know the plays or you know of them? Seven hours of amazing theater. It's in two parts. At the end of the first half of the play, the angel comes to find the man who has AIDs and imparts a vision. It's extraordinary. Read it! Because it's great on the page.

His name is Prior and he's dying and the angel has come with this transforming vision. He's lying in his bed in a night sweat and he hears the voices from heaven. And the angel descends. Three and a half hours of theater have led up to this revelation. And it's halfway through the play. There's going to be a second play the next night that's going to be another three and a half hours. So you've gotten to this moment and your eyes sting with tears and he looks up and he says, "Very Stephen Spielberg." And I hated that. It makes me crazy. And of course the audience loves it. It's complete playing to the gallery. But it's cheap, you know? It feels like a shorthand. And I swear that Kushner will regret it. I swear that at some point he'll rewrite it. Because, for one thing, that's not going to mean anything in 20 years and for another thing he completely makes the moment trivial.

I try really hard to avoid that. Now that means sometimes that the language is denied a kind of colloquialism which would make it more comfy. And there's a trade-off. There's a reason why you go for a Grisham or a King or a Clancy or whatever. You find these books are filled up with brand names or movie titles because it makes it easy to say, "Oh, I'm there."

LR: Like a plot device, or a characterization device Because you don't need to explain the Marlboro smoker...

CB: No. Exactly. There he is. And it's an easy piece of shorthand. And it makes these things disposable, I think, in a way you absolutely don't want them to be if you're writing fiction. You know, if Madam Bovary had been described in terms of the very particular cigarettes that she smoked or carriages she drove in or perfume that she wore and those were ways that we had understood who she was, she wouldn't be the wonderful, extraordinary, mythic literary character. It makes characters subject to the travails of time.

There are wonderfully colloquial writers who write in their own inventive vernacular. Chandler is one. He invented a voice which is completely his own and he's stripped bare of the kind of hip references that we're talking about. Our culture loves that. If I see one more reference to the hamburger conversation in Pulp Fiction I'll scream. Right? How hip can that be? "You know what they call a hamburger in Paris?" It's very hip. It's of the moment. Incredibly clever. Incredibly clever. But disposable? I think so.

LR: So that type of literature, once it becomes historical might become a kind of curiosity?

CB: Right. There's interest in curiosity. You know, Blake says "Eternity is in love with the product of time." So maybe the eternal loves the particular. But there is something about fantastic fiction that for me needs to be able to move effortlessly from the particular in this moment to another place; to be both natural and supernatural, both visible and invisible: needs to partake of two worlds. And the ease of that process -- back and forth -- is facilitated, I believe, by not making this place too much about right now. Enough about right now for us to feel that we understand the character: that we can smell the air. One of the reasons that in some of my books I can take these huge jumps into other dimensions or whatever is because the reality into which the characters are leaping and jumping is not too particular.

The tide of our imaginations moves out from the real to the unreal. And from the visible into the invisible. From the natural into the supernatural. And the backwash comes back at us. And the backwash takes and informs the world. One of the things I want to do as a writer is from the first word -- from the first sentence -- I am describing a reality which -- even though you as the reader may not realize it -- is already informed by this backwash. So that the first paragraph of Sacrament "To every hour its mystery" and all that stuff, says, 'here is the human day seen mythically.' That's the level which I'm going to ask you to read this book. So now let's get into the particulars of a man on a doorstep. Right?

Weaveworld. We start with something which is about what storytelling is, and then we go into the story. It's the equivalent of what happens at the beginning of many Shakespearean plays. A character effectively comes on and says 'Listen to this extraordinary tale. Let me tell you about poetry and dreams,' and so you're predisposed to partake of poetry and dreams. One of the things I think we've lost is that leap. Movies are to blame. And TV is to blame. It's because our popular culture is all about moments. It's all about particulars.

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