Monday, November 5, 2012

Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan's new novel is Sweet Tooth.

From his interview about the book with Barbara Chai of the Wall Street Journal:

What was the seed for “Sweet Tooth”?

It started with fascination with that old Encounter scandal. It was a literary political magazine called Encounter. In 1966-67, an American magazine revealed, and then the New York Times picked it up, that it was funded indirectly by the CIA. Encounter was a magazine of very high repute. I was thrilled when one of my own stories was accepted in [the 1970s]. I then started reading about the so-called Cultural Cold War. The CIA was putting money into high culture right from the late ‘40s, early ‘50s. Funding things that both you and I would love to hear. Tours of symphony orchestras from the States in 20 cities in Europe. They even funded a music festival in Paris.

There was a paradox at the heart of this, which was the reason they were doing this, they wanted to show that the free world, especially the American free world, was open to the very best of culture, and persuade left of center European intellectuals that it was the American rather than the Soviet Union way that was best. All that seemed to me fine, but the paradox was they did it all in secret. They wanted to promote the values of an open society, but instead of just giving the money and saying, “Here, the U.S. government, or the National Foundation for the Arts wants to promote your symphony, your magazine, because we think it’s a good thing,” they did it through the CIA.

So, you wanted to write a novel around this.

I’ve been haunted by this paradox for years and thought, one of these days I’ll find a plot. I’ll think about something that will dramatize this in some way. In the end I thought, because I’m more familiar with it, I’ll...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue