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'Big emotional experiences'

4 March 2013

'I don't like being unfashionable, but I'm doomed to be. Highly educated people didn't like the musical Les Miserables when it opened on stage.  I think they have a fear of their own emotions. I loved it, but then I love Tammy Wynette. I'm an odd mixture. I did English at Cambridge, but the novels I was writing were no good, because I unconsciously, wanted them to be treated as literature, which is absolute nonsense. The only books that work come out of your own powerful drives. If you don't care about them, why should anyone else? Hollywood has been helpful to me in that sense. It banged all the shit out of me...

I'm not a monk! I can't live on the books. But the book-reading public wants big emotional experiences. Why wouldn't they? I do.  Why is it that we keep on reading the 19th century classics? Because they feed us in this way. There are very few recent books that I would ever re-read. It's been a very disappointing era for books, the past 50 years, my lifetime. There are some, but it's been a diminished, anxious, over self-protective period of writing, with too much care for ideologies rather than content.'  

William Nicholson, author of Motherland and the screenplay of Les Miserables, in The Times.