On the city as a force in the character's lives:
There’s very much a powerful dual force between the person and the place.... I am a very big fan of fiction writers who have explored place or a specific place or places, or have gone deep with their interrogation of themselves in place....
This book is the most personal yet, because it allows me to consider issues of erasure. Erasure of personal memory or erasure of people, erasure of moments of one’s life, and mirrored in the erasure of the streetscape. Sometimes I’ve written about that erasure of the streetscape almost directly through writing on preservation matters. But in this case, it’s a much more interesting way to consider it. In this book particularly, I think of the city as a text that can be read, that can be drawn on, that can be muted, blacked out, erased, written over, reconsidered, torn out, all these great metaphors....
The way that we imprint ourselves onto the place, and the way that place is alive in our lives— it’s an atmosphere. It’s a moment. It’s a construct. It’s a physical construction that shapes us— shapes our movements. And, that notion is really, really important. I think in some ways the physical being of Philadelphia has more impact on us because it’s— because of the scale of the city. It’s big enough to matter or be an – aggressive is not the right word – impactful, apparent force on us. Like, “Oh yeah we feel it.”
On the theme of luring someone into self-betrayal
(discussed in the preceding post on this blog):
We have ideals. We have beliefs. We have values. But how easy is it for us to just lose it and act stupid, and angry? And I find myself doing that a lot. It also made me think about a time in my life where I sort of lured someone into self-betrayal ... and I wanted to explore that moment and I did that through the story of Nicholas and his recent past. The story of his failed love with Eva.
There's an excellent interview with Nathaniel Popkin, author of Everything Is Borrowed, on the PhillyLitSpace website. Click on the image above for the full text. Here are some excerpts:
Another interview of Nathaniel Popkin just posted, this one on WYBC/Yale Radio with Brainard Carey. Here Nathaniel shares the historical story that prompted his novel Everything Is Borrowed: an event from the 1890s demonstrating “the way that we can seduce other people into their own self-betrayal.”
He then explains how he paired this incident with a similar one in the modern protagonist’s own life. The concept is a key to the novel's deep psychological explorations. In everyday life, how often do we lure other people to betray their own best selves, or best principles, without realizing that we're doing so? Do we do it in love? (Think about that a moment.) In business? In politics? The novel prompts us to question our own assumptions of innocence.
Nathaniel also relates the book to “the intense crisis we’re in today,” with issues of “foreignness, immigration, otherness.”
This is a cogent and thoughtful interview.
"Architects are supposed to be the builders up, and yet in this novel, the architect Nicholas Moscowitz has hit a creative block. . . . To go forward he needs to tear down."
So says author Nathaniel Popkin in a Philadelphia Weekly interview about his novel Everything Is Borrowed. He's done a number of interviews lately, in print and in audio. Here's a list with links:
You can meet the authors of our two new novels, and pick up signed copies, at the following readings this month: