So, you’ve been putting off starting this self-interview thing for almost a month.

Three weeks.

 

That’s still kind of a long time.

I know, but I was busy writing questions in a notebook in the subway and then crossing them out, and also I was doing research. By “research”, I mean “reading through all the other TNB self-interviews and trying to figure out what to ask myself.”

The strangest thing about waking up in Eilo’s house was the silence. In Gavin’s apartment in New York he’d heard birdsong in the mornings from the tree outside his bedroom window, soft sounds of traffic from the streets. But now he woke in the mornings in a soundproofed house as closed as a space station, cool air humming through a vent in the wall. The carpets silenced his footsteps. He usually opened his bedroom window a crack to admit the outside world, just to be sure that it was there, and the noise of the freeway behind the house flooded in. The sound reminded him of the ocean.

Recently, in the fine media tradition of griping about how sick everybody is of talking about something—and thereby talking about it more—I read a tweet that quipped, “Can we stop talking about the New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 already?”

The answer is no.

It is dangerous to summarize an Emily St. John Mandel novel.Spoilers would abound in any description, but also a synopsis of Mandel’s thriller/mystery plots would risk trivializing or reducing this immensely talented writer’s work.I’ll limit myself, therefore, to saying that The Singer’s Gun, Mandel’s sophomore novel, is about a man named Anton who grew up with parents who sold stolen goods.Anton himself has worked with his beautiful and cold cousin selling fake passports, but has hankered after the “straight” life and tried to attain it.Of course he finds—as all characters find in fiction, and indeed most people find in life—that it is entirely difficult to outrun your past, and if you are serious about doing so you will probably need to make some pretty unpalatable sacrifices along the road to freedom.