(THE PHILADELPHIA AUTO SHOW IS ON.)
I think of the creation of my new novel as I would the creation of a new model of automobile. I want to present a new type, a brand new model the like of which people have never seen. I want to do this and still make it driveable, er, readable.
The book will be readable, but it will also be complex, filled with ideas and meaning. Tightly organized. There will be strong characters-- how readers react to the characters is unknown. I include much strong dialogue and fiery rhetoric. I play to my strengths. No preaching, however, and no solitary viewpoint. I give all sides. There will be a few set pieces: a press conference, a protest, a football game.
What's a set piece? Tolstoy was a master of set pieces. In Anna Karenina, the horse race, the peasant work scene, and the birth scene are set pieces. I don't pretend to approach Tolstoy in ability, or in anything. He remains a model to consider all the same. One learns from the greats-- then synthesizes what you learn according to your own needs.
I'm not building a big and slow luxury model vehicle. "Novel of Manners." Those are out-of-date, despite the fact the bigs like publishing them. You can buy a Franzen novel if that's the kind of car you like. My offering aims to be fast and sporty, but also powerful. I'll be squeezing in a big engine. Much horsepower. The question is how far I achieve all or any of this.