Monday, June 13, 2005


Coe conspirator

In yesterday's Newsday, Kerry Fried interviews Jonathan Coe, who has delivered not one but two treats for his fans this year: The Closed Circle (a sequel to The Rotter's Club) and Like a Fiery Elephant (a biography of the cranky and courageous B.S. Johnson). Coe is, not surprisingly, amusing and rather modest. He also makes a neat distinction between his work as a novelist and a biographer. In the first case, he notes, "you're responsible to a kind of larger, more nebulous version of the truth, which is endlessly flexible and very convenient, because it's never specifically defined. Whereas I felt that I had to tread with a certain amount of tact and sensitivity around the facts of B.S. Johnson's life, because his life ended badly and the feelings of all the people involved who survived that act were still pretty raw, and pretty unresolved in some cases as well."

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