Tom Perrotta interviewed Lauren Grodstein about her new novel, The Explanation for Everything.
Part of their Q & A:
Tom Perrotta: The Explanation for Everything is a novel about evolution and creationism, but it doesn't take sides. Why not?Visitt Lauren Grodstein’s website.
Lauren Grodstein: I think it's easy to take sides on all sorts of things (I root for the Mets, for instance, and prefer my coffee black). But in this novel I wanted to do something more complicated, and maybe more interesting--I wanted to try to figure out why people believe what they believe, and why they need their own particular sets of beliefs to operate in a complicated world. I also wanted to try out other faiths, as far as my characters went, and write about the beauty in them. It made my world a little bigger, creating people whose faiths are so far from mine. Besides, I never write fiction to take sides on an issue, or to push any particular agenda. I write stories to investigate other people. I’m kind of a voyeur that way.
Perrotta: Andy, your protagonist, is a biologist, but you've mentioned that you barely passed your high school science classes. What kind of research did you have to do to make Andy’s job skills convincing?
Grodstein: A good friend of mine is a scientist at Columbia, and she hooked me up with a tour of the school's rodent labs. I saw the rodent cages, the rodent babies, and the rodent guillotine, which basically looked like a cheese slicer. I took lots of notes but found I didn't even have to refer to them, because the things I saw had become indelible. Once you see a bunch of rats (squeaking, scrabbling rats) with...[read on]
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