Monday, October 21, 2013

Marisha Pessl Interviewed on 'Night Film'

I read the interview Marisha Pessl did for CNN Living online.  I didn't even know about Marisha Pessl until now.  I love her novel Night Film. I'm listening to the audio of this book and I'm completely fascinated by her writing, by the plot development, and the themes running through the story of Stanislas Cordova.

I'm not even sure how I stumbled on this interview, but it pretty much explains why I love this book so much.

Pessl began writing this novel because of its underground subject, a hidden figure, Stanislas Cordova.  She says in the interview, "our world is so overexposed right now.  People don't get out of bed without tweeting about it.  People don't make art these days without begging people to interact with it, to buy it, to consume it in some way. I wanted to create the antithesis if all that, a figure who went out of his way to become completely underground, who didn't care about selling any kind of product.  It was really about a return to mystery in our lives and finding out again in our overexposed world."

When I found out about this novel, this is exactly why it appealed to me.  I wanted to know what Pessl had to say about this filmmaker I knew nothing about.  The story line was uncovering, literary, a brand new person, a brand new world I knew nothing about.  And now that I'm actually, listening to the book, it's even more incredible to discover all of this.  Even more, I love the fact that she chose to research and uncover a story about someone or something so many people know very little about, but something that will enlighten and transform.  Lastly, I love her passion for the mystery as deep as our personal lives.  I can relate to this kind of premise.  I have always appreciated underground movements, they are much more valuable  untainted, and rich than those that are prostituted for alternate reason to the whole public.  I love that she's promoting this kind of perspective of art.

When I began listening to this book I realized it was thorough, obsessive almost to sift through every layer of the story and uncover levels and levels of psychology, psychosis, and cultural background of Stanislas Cordova as well as the world that surrounded him.  After reading her interview, I realized it all makes sense how it all fell together like this.  It took her seven years to come out with this novel after her last previous book Special Topics in Calamity Physics." She started writing the novel in 2008, about 5 years ago.  This is a long time to be immersed in such a novel, and so I'm not surprised by the level of specificity, development, and utter cleanliness of concepts and themes.

She said "there were things that kept me awake at night." That's when you know your writing has taken a life of its own.  If you are someone who wants to write your own book, this is the prime of example of how such a qualitative novel is made.  It takes time.  It takes an obsession.  It takes being up at night trying to figure out even the smallest of pieces of the novel.    

She continues to say the following.  "I think that sense of dislocation and claustrophobia and not exactly knowing where I was going, only that I was driven to find out what was there at the end.  I had all those same experiences as a writer that my characters did, simply because of the nature of this book.  I wanted to push myself to the end of my writing experience and then see if I could take myself even further.  I really wanted to challenge myself."  If you are a writer, or a plan to be a writer, you know exactly what she is saying.  Writing for some, as I know from personal experience, is about taking yourself further than your immediate world.  It's about discovering a world you know very little about, but one you feel connected to.  You wish to uncover it while also challenging yourself.

The final reason I have just absolutely fallen in love with this book is because there is so much depth to the dark world she presents in this book.  A depth that is full of lightness and wisdom, in a place that you'd expect only darkness and desolation.  In the interview, she explains exactly this idea I felt throughout the book.  She explains what she wanted to do with the novel.  "I wanted something that was thrilling, and enigmatic, that moved, but also multi-layered with great characters.  I thought more in terms of a mood and a feeling and an experience.  That was the story I wanted to read and I think as writers we always write that we wish existed.  So I wanted something dark but I think it's critical even in those dark places to have lightness.  Even when things were dire..."

If your path is in writing and you've thought about writing your own book, you've stumbled yourself through these major points of perspective.  I know I have.  I can relate to so many of her answers.  The path to writing has to be a discovery of something you are passionate about uncovering to the whole world.  It takes time and you must be obsessive about it and see it to the end, regardless of how long it takes, even if it takes you seven years in the making and five years in writing, you will have known you have done it justice.  You must push yourself, take yourself further than you imagine.  Lastly, give your writing multi-dimensions, see it a three dimensional image, full of different components, reflect of life itself.  Give it humanity and depth.

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