Uncategorized

LARB interview with Helen DeWitt

The Los Angeles Review of Books also published my interview with Helen DeWitt (alongside my review and Scott Esposito’s review of Lightning Rods).

My favorite answer that Helen gave?

I read James Wood’s review of White Teeth, in which he introduced the term “hysterical realism,” a long while back: He complained of novels obsessed with information, novels of relentless vivacity with no real understanding of character. It seemed to me that this way of formulating the objection was only possible in ignorance of Edward Tufte’s work on information design. Tufte is a ferocious critic of what he calls “chartjunk” — charts that enliven data for a supposedly nervous reader; chaos and clutter, he argues, are not features of information, they are features of design. To achieve clarity, add detail.

It’s weirdly gratifying to imagine that Don DeLillo’s problem as a writer isn’t that he’s a novelist of information, as Wood would have it, but that he’s a novelist of chartjunk.

Read the whole interview here.