Good TV is a novel

>> Wednesday, August 17, 2011

GARY SHTEYNGART: How is literature supposed to survive when our brain has been pummeled with information, sliced and diced with it all day long at work, if we're white-collar workers? We go home. Are we really going to open up a thick text with 350 pages and try to waddle through it? Or are we just going to turn on "Mad Men"? Which is a wonderful show...

TERRY GROSS: It's a great show.

GARY SHTEYNGART: It's a great show, but see, what "Mad Men" does, which is so wonderful about it, is it takes a lot of the things that make novels great. It takes so much of that novelistic precision and also it takes time to explain its characters, to develop its characters and also to try to get into the minds of its characters, as far as film will allow.

So it satisfies all our narrative impulses. That's what we want. But we don't have to open a book to get it. We just watch it on the screen. "The Sopranos," "The Wire," "Mad Men," all these shows very cleverly are indebted to novels, and all the creators of these shows frequently talk about how they're indebted to novels.
~Writer Gary Shteyngart, speaking with Terry Gross on Fresh Air, on May 13, 2011

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