Shameful though it is, I have never darkened the door of La Maison de al Poesie until now, which is of course ridiculous as it's just ten minutes from my house, but that's largely because they have few anglophone guest writers - surprisingly enough this is France - and I can only just about cope with bi-lingual things.
The novel is set during the Cold War, a period in time, he thinks has become sufficiently contained by its effluxion in order to be written about in the way he does. Little of the plot was given away, and certainly not the ending, instead McEwan talked about the activities of the CIA. The agency was paradoxically funding culture, like concerts of A-tonal music in Paris, the Boston symphony orchestra and exhibitions of abstract expressionism, in order to have free and open culture, whilst at the same time the Soviets were busy elevating the importance of writers by incarcerating them.
Sound bites to take away and chew over:
I don't create literature, I am the inheritor of literary tradition.
In a free society, writers should be free to do what they want.
Writers are spies - we all try to read each other all the time and control our own narratives.
History is the construction of narrative.
To the question as to whether McEwan reads poetry, he replied that the poets he reads most are Auden and Larkin. Nothing contemporary then, which rather disproves his claim to be an avid reader of the form. Pity, but an interesting evening with a writer whose work I much admire.