Reality Is Like Fuel

Discussion between John Banville and Rodrigo Fresán was eagerly awaited by a filled auditorium. The visitors enjoyed the guests' humor, reminiscences and interesting thoughts on how to approach reality.

"Reality is like fuel - it only takes you a certain distance. The rest you have to walk by writing," the Argentinian novelist, journalist and translator Rodrigo Fresán explained his relationship to facts in literature. Both writers revealed that they started flirting with their future profession very early on. "I began writing when coming of age. I got a hold of a book by James Joyce and I was very surprised that you can actually write about reality. I gave it a try and when I finished writing I had the feeling that my work was no longer mine. At that moment I realized that I could do it. I practice by writing and I hope I learn it before I die," laughed John Banville, the Irish winner of the Man Booker prize.

"Facts by themselves are not interesting for me. You must provide them with a certain style," Fresán described the creative process. "I want to write an autobiography in which each and every fact from my life would be a little bit askew," added Banville with a wink.

The writers also discussed the question of when the past becomes the past, and how the way we perceive it changes. Rodrigo Fresán mentioned the fact that we tend to laugh about details from fresh history, while older history seems stylish to us. "All my books are obsessed with the past, with the man I was. I am trying to find out who I am now," John Banville added, reminding the visitors that while keeping a measure of the time is important for science, it passes differently for every one of us.