Why we need villains

A note to writers: keep on with those depictions of villainy. It’s what we need—narratives with complex, psychologically motivated, clearly defined antagonists. Because when we see it in film and in literature, we know where we stand and what we stand for. The really hard work for artists is not to succumb to the creation of unworthy villains—that’s too easy—but to create worthy antagonists who actually wrestle thought from an audience. Who demand feeling. Who provoke an active response. Who insist on being remembered.

Books in our Lives

One year when my finances and work commitments prevented me from having a holiday of any sort, I visited the South Pacific in The Lord of the Flies, Europe in The Good Soldier; and the Andes in The Bridge of San Luis Rey. I read The Sheltering Sky on the bus to and from work. It must have been late autumn or winter, because I remember it was crisp and dark outside while the Moroccan sun blazed from the pages of Bowles’ wonderful story.