Ethnografiction

23 July 2010

Ian McDonald’s interview with the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography makes me realise what fascinates me so much about the worldbuilding in his near-future India, Brazil and Turkey (River of Gods, Brasyl and The Dervish House): he sees himself as an ethnographer, to all intents and purposes:

It takes years. I read a lot. I travel a lot — and as much as I can afford. I talk to people, I read the papers. I cook the food. I buy the music, I follow the sports teams. I try to second-guess what the government will do in international politics. I learn a bit of the language. I study the religion. I study the etiquette. I try and work out what the day-to-day details are like. I watch people. I have a very strong visual memory and I can recreate an entire scene in my head and observe details. I cultivate an eye for detail. I take thousands of photographs of boring everyday things. I look at what’s on sale in gas stations and what that tells you about a culture. I study the ads. I talk to more people. I get hammered on the local booze. I try to take the country’s political position in the world news. I watch television. I read books for those tiny details. Is this like Method Acting? WTF are you doing with those lights?!?

About these ads

3 Responses to “Ethnografiction”

  1. Old Kitty Says:

    What an interview!! You know I was going Ian who then I followed your link and was so hooked on the interview! Thank you!!

    He’s a character isn’t he?? And very funny and head screwed on right!!

    Thanks for this!

    Take care
    x

  2. Alex J Cavanaugh Says:

    Now that is dedication!


  3. He has very interesting methods.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: