In the delightful film adaptation of Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys, Hannah Green says of Professor Grady Tripp’s 2,611-page manuscript:
You know how in class you’re always telling us that writers make choices? ... And even though your book is really beautiful, I mean, amazingly beautiful, it’s, it’s at times, it’s, very detailed. You know, with the genealogies of everyone’s horses, and the dental records, and so on. And, I could be wrong, but it sort of reads in places like you didn’t make any choices. At all.
The film takes it as a given that the project of the author is to isolate the telling specifics, the artfully chosen details that make a portrait convincing, help build a story and conjure a person out of nothing. Hannah would probably find a naysayer in the Scottish novelist