Patrick deWitt falls in love with lies

David Berry in National Post:

Ook“Rich American assholes,” deWitt explains over lunch at a downtown Toronto hotel, a lunch he picks apart as carefully and particularly as he speaks about writing, “are boring. To me they are. I thought it would be the opposite.” After a brief moment to chew and contemplate further, he continues: “When I tried to crack open the man’s skull and figure out what made him tick, I just couldn’t ever get past the thought that it was a very basic greed — covetousness, avarice. These are not very deep feelings for me, not complicated feelings for me. Bernie Madoff is probably more nuanced then I’m giving him credit for, but I just couldn’t get under his skin.” Taking a torch to the half-completed book, deWitt found salvation in the bedtime stories he had taken to reading his son: the dark, brooding fairy tales and fables of Europe, in particular the stark settings and characters of Jewish myth. Whether it was because they started as father-son bonding (deWitt sheepishly admits that it eventually became obvious he was enjoying them more than his son), or just because they were far away from the world of contemporary fiction, they sparked an old feeling within him – the sort of primordial urge that turns someone into a writer in the first place.

“I was reading for the reasons I did as a young man: just for pure enjoyment,” deWitt explains, his voice keeping its careful modulation. “I still do that, but reading becomes more complicated as you get older. Especially if you’re endeavouring daily to write your own books, you read with a degree of — well, it’s hard to forget you’re a writer when you’re reading. But I was reading these books and they made me forget that I was a writer.”

More here.