[This is the second of an in-depth, two-part conversation with Rupert Thomson, conducted over the course of two days. The first part, which can be heard in Show #137, details primarily with Death of a Murderer. The second part extends into his career. Many thanks to Mr. Thomson for being extremely generous with his time for this conversation.]
Condition of Mr. Segundo: Sketchily repentant about past prevarications.
Subjects Discussed: Transitory bridges, noir symbols, being called “David Lynch in print,” bland roadside motels, on Death being labeled as a “crime thriller,” writing novels with seemingly preposterous premises, James Hyne’s description of “the tension between distancing and empathy,” reading 47 novels for a prize, Martin Amis’s fiction vs. nonfiction, writing without judgment, car accidents, visceral motivation, Thomson’s nightmares, morphing from an intuitive animal, relying upon The Five Gates of Hell for a forthcoming memoir, manifestations of imagination, Death of a Murderer‘s theatrical qualities, first-person vs. third-person, the richer prose and poetry of The Book of Revelation, individuals vs. social constructs, the convalescence theme within Thomson’s work, subconscious motifs throughout Thomson’s work, the Orwell Estuary, on unexpectedly slipping in future book titles into books, Richard Yates’s book titles, Billy’s parents and family structure, prostitutes in the gray area, moral redemption, and Thomson’s favorite sentence in The Book of Revelation.
EXCERPT FROM SHOW:
Correspondent: This was reviewed in the New York Times by mystery columnist Marilyn Stasio.
Thomson: Yeah. Famous one, is she? I mean, apparently. Yeah.
Correspondent: I have my issues with her, but nonetheless. But when she actually — when they decided to review this book — yours — the first part of the sentence was “Although not in any conventional way a genre novel…”
Thomson: I.e., shouldn’t be in this column at all. (laughs)
Correspondent: Exactly. So the question is: Is there a certain danger, I guess, in dwelling upon a subject like Myra Hindley, because people are going to go ahead and label it? “Oh, well, this must be a true crime!”
Thomson: I just hadn’t imagined they were going to do that. I really hadn’t. And sometimes in the past, I could understand why. They’ve tried it all the way along with me at certain points. I mean, with The Insult, for instance, they tried to sell that as a thriller in the UK. Anyone who wants a thriller is going to be kind of disappointed by The Insult, because it doesn’t deliver in the kind of obvious ways that thriller writers do. In fact, right from page one of that book, you’re going off in a completely different direction to the one you’d normally go in the thriller. And the thriller — having a guy shot in a car park, practically in line one of the novel — normally, you’d then find out what that crime was about, you know. And of course, this goes completely the other way. And equally, with Soft, that was put in crime sections sometimes. I mean, I didn’t really understand. It’s like if you put Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang in the crime section. Because that’s got crime in it. I mean, Ned Kelly was a criminal. So there’s no more reason for a book about Myra Hindley to be put in the crime section than there is for one about Ned Kelly.
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