Gathering Evidence by Martin MacInnes - review by David Annand

David Annand

Death of the Subject

Gathering Evidence

By

Atlantic Books 320pp £12.99 order from our bookshop
 

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

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