Monday, January 22, 2024

Q&A with Lea Carpenter

From my Q&A with Lea Carpenter, author of Ilium: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Probably not enough, if I am honest. The story of the novel all started when I saw a series, or “cycle,” of paintings by Cy Twombly, one of my favorite artists, called Fifty Days at Iliam. Iliam, for Twombly, was with an “a” not a “u,” which makes it foreign, yet uncanny. The paintings are Twombly’s take on the Trojan War, which is a war that has hung around, or over, so much of what I have written, beginning with Eleven Days, my first novel. That title referred to the eleven-day period at the end of the Trojan war when Achilles agrees to stand down his army to allow Priam to properly bury his son, Hector, who was killed by Achilles to avenge the death of Achilles’s best friend, Patroclus. Cycles of violence: the idea that all conflicts are at risk of becoming “forever” (the word Dexter Filkins brilliantly affixed to the terror wars) is at the center of a lot of what I write and is certainly at the center of Ilium. Hopefully by the end of the novel, which I close with a quote from Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey, the reader will like the reference in the title. I have...[read on]
Q&A with Lea Carpenter.

--Marshal Zeringue