Sunday, May 16, 2010

John Steinbeck’s Hitchcockian Moment

And here I thought that I was the only writer whose characters stand up, think on their own and talk back while you’re writing them into a scene. In the prologue to John Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday, a central character named Mack talks about what he’d say if he ever ran into “the guy” who wrote Cannery Row. Among other things, Mack says that he’d have told the writer to give the chapters titles rather than just numbers. Steinbeck dutifully follows Mack’s sage advice.
Thinking back on my blogs from last year, I remember promising myself a Hitchcockian moment in each of my novels, an instant in the story in which I, Mohamed Mughal, have a personal presence that somehow molds that small slice of narrative. As one would expect and as Steinbeck clearly demonstrates, what I call Hitchcockian moments are nothing new. Writers’ characters, in some form or another, have been interacting with their creators ever since that anonymous scribe put quill to parchment to etch out Epic of Gilgamesh.

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