Peter Cameron interview

peter-cameron1[1]In City of Your Final Destination Adam says: “Charm gets worse with age, like beauty. They are valuable for young people; old people can buy very little with them. I don’t mind being old and ugly”. What is your relationship with time passing by and with aging?

 It’s not something I’ve thought a lot about in personal terms.  I realize I’m getting older in a theoretical way, but because everyone around me is also aging, I don’t really notice it, or worry about it.  But I am about to turn 50, so I suppose I will start to feel the effects of aging more and more.  I have always felt very consistent as a person; I still in touch with the person I was a child, so even as I grow and age, I feel in some way I always stay the same, in some essential way.  And I don’t necessarily agree with Adam (I very often don’t agree with things my characters say).  I think that people – men and women – who age gracefully, without resistance (plastic surgery) achieve a beauty and charm that far surpasses a younger person’s. 

 James, the main character of Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You considers kids at his age annoying and shallow; the idea of living four years with them in the same college seems like a nightmare to him. Is there something autobiographical in it? How were you as a teenager?

 As a teenager, I was very similar to James, but I made more of an effort to be part of the social life around me.  I was shy and lonely, but not as misanthropic as James; I did like people, but I felt estranged from them. 

 In Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You the descriptions of psychotherapy sessions are really hilarious. Referring to Dr. Adler, James says: “It’s like to talk to a parrot or to a lobotomized person. What is your opinion on psychotherapy?

 I’ve had experience with both therapy and analysis and most of it has been positive, and productive, and I’m thankful for how it has affected me and my life.  But while it is happening, it can seem very frustrating and at times ridiculous.  And since James is resistant to the idea of therapy, it made sense to me that he would focus on all the things that seem absurd about it.  But I hope that the reader will see that despite his resistance, his conversations with Dr. Adler are helpful to him, and make him more aware of himself.

 In the coming days the movie directed by James Ivory City of Your Final Destination, adapted from your novel, will be showed out of competition at the Rome Film Festival. How did you feel watching this movie? How did you find the transition from book to film? And the interpreters gave life to the characters in your book as you had imagined them?

 I think like most writers I feel disappointed with the film version of my book.  Because I write very visually, I always have in my imagination a perfect movie of all my books, and of course that movie can never been replicated or achieved.  I do think James Ivory does a very good capturing the world and ambience of my book, and I think that Charlotte Gainsbourg makes a very charming and beautiful Arden.  And Hiroyuki Sanada is very nice as Pete.

 The title Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You is a quotation from Ovid. Why this choice?

 I just thought Ovid’s quote spoke very eloquently to the pain of adolescence.  I feel that if we can endure the pain we suffer when we are young, it helps us to become more sensitive and emphatic adults.

Who are your favourite authors?

 My favorite authors are William Maxwell, Denton Welch, Shirley Hazzard, James Salter, Rose Macaulay, and Millen Brand.

 Which is your favourite book?

There is a list of my ten favourite books in The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books edited by J. Peder Zane (  They are (in alphabetical order):

 The Outward Room by Millen Brand

The Professor’s House by Willa Cather

Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov

The Evening of the Holiday by Shirley Hazzard

The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macaulay

The Chateau by William Maxwell

Quarter in Autumn by Barbara Pym

Light Years by James Salter

What’s for Dinner by James Schuyler

A Voice Through a Cloud by Denton Welch

 What book are you reading at the moment?

 I’ve just finished The Prospector by J.M.G. Le Clezio and I’m now reading The Honeymoon by Patrick Modiano.

 Are you working on something new right now?

 Yes, I’m writing a book of two novellas called Certain Persons.

 What are your passions beyond writing?

 Reading, Theater, New York City, Dogs, Art, Sleeping.

 Which kind of music do you like to listen?

 I don’t listen to music very much, but when I do, I like to hear people sing beautiful songs.

Have you any advice for someone who would like to write fiction?

Read and dream.

What do you think about the Nobel Peace Prize given to Barack Obama?

I hope it is a harbinger of all that he will achieve.


3 Risposte a “Peter Cameron interview”

  1. Ciao, Ragazze.

    Thanks for this interview with Peter Cameron. The question on youth and aging was a great way to learn about his motivation and get insight into his personality.

    The quote itself reminds me of a passage in “The Last Temptation of Christ” by Nikos Kazanzakis that has lingered in my subconscious since I read it over thirty years ago: “Youth is a beast that does not know it is a beast.” It seems to me that those who cling to their beast most as they age lose their charm first. It is an irony of life you have no concept of when you’re young.

    I look forward to more interviews on your blog. They can be very engaging and entertaining. And, speaking of beasts, the more celebrity your subjects have, the more organic search traffic you can expect to your posts! I think the trick is to use highly ranked keywords in your headlines whenever possible.

  2. Hey there everyone i was just introduceing myself here im a first time visitor who hopes to become a daily reader!


  1. Intervista a Peter Cameron « Il Blog delle Ragazze - 30 ottobre 2009

    […] Di questo lo ringraziamo. (english version)  […]


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