Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bo Caldwell

From Jeff Wasserstrom's interview with Bo Caldwell, author of The Distant Land of My Father, a Shanghai novel, at The China Beat:

JW: Did you read a lot of memoirs to help create the memoir feel of the novel?

BC: I read a lot of memoirs in general, and personal essays. I’m sort of a sucker for a first-person narrative, fiction or nonfiction. It really draws me in, or it can. I think it’s also overused and wrongly used (though I’m on thin ice here, as the novel I’m finishing right now is once again first person). The advantages of first person are immediacy and intimacy; the disadvantages are its limitations and, in my opinion, it can sometimes feel gimmicky.

Anyway, yes, I read a lot of memoirs, and, as I said above, the memoirs that dealt with the time and place of the novel were especially valuable. I also had, thanks to my dad, a couple dozen old Life magazines from around 1930 to 1960 or so. He picked them up at garage sales because he enjoyed them, and he loaned them to me for research. They were very handy, especially the ads in terms of brand names and products.

JW: Did you read novels that were set in Shanghai?

BC: [read on]
--Marshal Zeringue