Identity and Recognition: A Conversation with Daniel Mendelsohn – Los Angeles Review of Books

I’ve always been fascinated by ring composition. This idea of circles of narratives coming back is a structural device that’s also thematically connected to memory. It’s all about spirals of memory going deeper and deeper. That was more structural than anything else. Hollywood people think “epic,” and they think “size.” But in fact, epic is very narrowly focused. I started thinking about how to tell a story that has larger implications about fathers and sons, marriage, life and death — the big questions — while keeping the narrative intimate. The trick was figuring out the focus. The largest part is the classroom. As we all know, teaching is like parenting. That was overdetermined, because my father was also my student for that semester. And then I had to figure out a way to get this other stuff in. And the way to do it is Homerically, by using flash-forwards and flashbacks. Then it all came together very suddenly.

Source: Identity and Recognition: A Conversation with Daniel Mendelsohn – Los Angeles Review of Books

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