LOS ANGELES T. Coraghessan Boyle has been entertaining readers for more than 30 years with such books as "Water Music" and "World's End," winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction.
An ardent movie fan, Boyle's work has seldom been transferred to the big screen, with the exception of "The Road to Wellville" and now "The Lie," based on his short story of the same name about a man who tells a small lie to get out of work one day and it snowballs into a big problem.
The movie opens in U.S. theaters on Friday, and Boyle, 62, spoke to Reuters about it, his uniquely dour outlook on the world and the real-life battle between man and machine.
Q: In "The Lie," the main character Lonnie does some bad things but he isn't a bad guy.
A: "You sympathize with the guy because he married too young and he's going nowhere and he's pissed off and he regrets that. And he looks back on the day before he settled down and had a band and possibilities and things are good. And so there's sympathy in that way, but he's wrong and he's hard-core and he does something pretty despicable."
Q: Have you ever told a lie that gets as big and as potentially disastrous as the one Lonnie tells in the book?
A: "I make my living telling lies. Everything I do is a lie. It's an artistic lie, a story, an invention. That's how I live. The reason that we make art and love art is because the real world is out of control, utterly random and there's absolutely no purpose to human life. So what we do is we create our own scenario in our own world. When asked this question about why my characters suffer so much, it's because I'm the god of my own world and by god they're going to suffer! That's my pleasure."
Q: In the United States, reading has dropped off among young people due to video games and other emerging technology. Can you be hopeful about the future of American literature?
A: "I'm not hopeful about anything. I'm not hopeful about the future of our species. The larger problem isn't simply video games, film, TV, even the decline in film attendance. It's really that society is so busy because we have been taken over by technology and people can't unplug. We live in the world of 'The Terminator' right now, people just don't realize it yet. The machines have taken over. In order to read a good book or even to absorb a really good movie, you have to have contemplative time. You have to have that kind of culture. So fewer people are exposed to it and obviously fewer people will be reading good lit."
Q: So you see a dim future.
A: "Not to be too pessimistic. You never know what technology will do. It's moving so quickly. For instance, when the telephone came into being...people said the great letter writing tradition of America is over, and so it was. But who could foresee that eventually we would have email and instead of calling each other we would be writing each other again. So there's no way of telling exactly how this is going to play out."
Q: So you avoid social networking, video games, television?
A: "I'm hard-core. All I do is do my work, go on tour, and walk in the woods muttering to myself. That's it. That's the entire sum of my activity on this planet. But we have to include many hours in dark bars as well."
(Editing by Jill Serjeant and Bob Tourtellotte)