Of course the nameless “everyman” narrator is also a literary type-the anonymous voice which can’t find its subjectivity. Would you be afraid to have “proper” characters?No, in the new book that’s out next year, “C“, there’s a main character and the book is all about him. His name is Serge and he’s not some postmodern construct, he’s a person. We follow him from birth to death. Again what drives that book is technology, so while he’s being born his dad is trying to invent radio, trying to get the patent before Marconi. It’s all about communication systems and stuff so his whole subjectivity hovers around mediation-or the experience of his own experience. That’s what the book’s about, and that’s what life’s about: we are all mediated!”
Speaking of porn, have you heard about Nabokov’s son Dmitri inventing a vision to ratify his decision to sell his father’s last novel to Playboy?
I didn’t hear about the vision! “Don’t worry son, it’s what I want!” Apparently when Kubrick’s Lolita was being cast, Dmitri claimed to be the casting director and just screwed loads of young actresses on the casting couch. It’s appropriate. And the title-The Original of Laura-makes me think about how actually the whole of Lolita is a trauma re-enactment, because she has an original: the 12 year-old girl who dies when they have unconsummated sex. The whole book is an attempt to get the hit he never got and she’s like Madeleine in Hitchcock: the substitute.
On Remainder: The Film:
Speaking of which, what happened to the film of Remainder? Has it been credit crunched?
It’s going into production later this year. It’ll be directed by Pavel Pavlikowski [My Summer of Love]. The screenplay is by John Hodge who did Trainspotting and all those Danny Boyle things.
Choose repetition! I’ve read the screenplay, it’s really very good. The first meeting I had with them they said “Who would you like to see directing it?” I said “David Lynch! Harmony Korine!” They said “Absolutely not!” They want to make an intelligent mainstream film, a Fight Club or Donnie Darko. There’s a certain vocabulary you have to have in a mainstream film. So the American girl now is a major character.
Oh no, not a Love Interest!
Yes! She says “Stop this re-enactment madness!” and so on. It’s what you have to do; I got their logic. They don’t want to make a low budget art film that 4000 people at the ICA will see who’ve already read the book. They said “We want to make a big film. Popcorn. All that! Millions of people will see it and they’ll go and buy your book Tom!” If I were directing it, it would be the trip-an hour and a half version of the tripping on the invisible kink. They have done good things though, scenes where you see a re-enactment happening and the camera pulls back to show the people with walkie-talkies and clipboards and keeps on going back for as much CGI as their budget can manage. The only demand I had was that I have to be an extra: I’d like to hold the clipboard.
On future projects:
Actually my new novel is going to be called Satin Island, like a mispronunciation of Staten. It’ll be about like illness and creaking matter. I think it’ll start with an oil slick. Nature is totally boring until it has oil poured over it-the condition of beauty being loss. When you see those birds covered in oil, they’re like statues. I like the idea of vinyl and protozaic slime, covering, wrapping things and the whole Tarkovsky thing [Stalker] about the polluted zone being the place of magical transformation. It couldn’t happen outside of that. The one I just finished, C, is going to come out next year. I haven’t started this new one yet. It’ll have zombie parades in it.
I have high hopes for C. I see it as a sort of crossroads. Men in Space was decent, but clearly an early effort reworked in the shadow of acclaim (think Faulkner’s Sanctuary). Remainder is the truth; it does what it means to do and does it perfectly. So count him 1 and 1.