-You have a Ph.D. in mathematical logic—what made you decide to become a writer?
I was always a writer, maths came much later in my life. My father was already a writer (although he never bothered to publish), my mother was a literature professor, and books were all over my house, as a part of the landscape of my childhood. I finished my first book of short stories before i was nineteen. In fact maths was the strange accident in my life. During my life as a mathematician i never gave up writing and i wrote my seven books in a kind of parallel esquizofrenic life. I also have to say that I quited the university and my career of mathematician three years ago, and now I am totally devoted to my waiting list of novels.
-Are there similarities between mathematics and writing fiction?
There are many in some writers. For example, I wrote a whole book about the influence of mathematical ideas in some of Borges short fictions (Borges and mathematics, Seix Barral). There are also more obvious connections in Lewis Carroll, Robert Musil, Raymond Queneau, Philip Dick. No matter the subject or the genre, there is also an analogy in the way that mathematicians discover regularities, patterns, figures, in a platonic world of ideal objects to later codify them in a written secuential text called “proof” and the way that writers find plots, voices, characters in a platonic world of imagination to later codify them in a written secuential text called “novel” or “short story”.
Both mathematics and literature have aestethical appealings for me, but i feel more at home with writing. I think that i have more interesting literary ideas than the few really original insights i had in maths.
-Who is your favorite mathematician and why?
Kurt Gödel, because of the discovery of the esential incompleteness of arithmetic, and the limits of proof methods based in axioms. He is a perfect example of how close could be maths to philosophy.
-Who are your literary influences? The novel’s narrator mentions Max Beerbohm, Henry James, Italo Calvino, and Oliver Sachs among others.
Henry James, Thomas Mann, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Witold Gombrowicz, Truman Capote, E. L. Doctorow, Patricia Highsmith, Dino Buzatti and many others.
-There are echoes of Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Was this an influence?
I didn’t realize of this conection, and I cannot figure out which are those echoes. But I have seen most of his films, and of course I admire his way of handling suspense. Probably, without even noticing it, I have absorbed one or two lessons. I am awared of his influence in one of the scenes of my previous novel The Oxford Murders, the one of the concert.
-What are the primary differences between Argentinean and American mystery writings, and what do you like and dislike about each?
I would say that American writers are more careful in respecting “reality”, and they are more comfortable within the limits of the genre. They tend to research little details, and they try to be accurate, and to show off how much they know about technical subtleties, like forensic practices and professional jargons. Argentinean writers would dismissed a little this kind of Balzacean realism of the nineteen century, and would go for one or other stylization of reality, and for more imaginative, daring fictions, even if they cannot be totally supported by documented facts. Also, Argentinean writers are in general not satisfied if they don’t try some kind of rupture of the genre along the way.
-Kloster seems to have elements of both Thomas Pynchon and Stephen King. Is there a “real” Kloster?
There is no “real” Kloster, although I have imagined some kind of male variant of Patricia Higsmith for one or two of his features.
-Do you believe that all authors have a literary giant whose intimidating presence looms over them? Do you—like Enoch Soames—write for immortality or is there something else that drives you?
Many times this is the case, and the giant can be different at different steps of your career. Borges, for instance, is still an intimidating shadow for many writers in my country, and they have developed all sorts of estrategies, and absurd theories, just to overcome him. I don’t write for “immortality”, but I do try to write according to some kind of inner “truth” of the story that emerges along the way while you are working. For me this abstract “form”, this elusive “figure” to chase, is something of the same order of a platonic, ideal, almost mathematical thread. It guides me and many times it rules me. So, even when I don’t have any expectations about the “longevity” of my work, I do have hopes about the permanence of these inner armonies for those in the future that could open my book.
-In both The Oxford Murders and The Book of Murder the narrator is neither a policeman nor a detective but rather an “innocent” who becomes embroiled in the events. What do you prefer about using an amateur investigator?
It is a way of avoiding the stereotypes of crime writing. It gives a different insight, some freshness to a literary field full of cliches and common places.
-The novel has no clear resolution. What do you hope your readers will take away with them?
The novel is a reflection about damage and punishment, and also about the puzzling ways that different and even opossite conjectures can be plausible explanations for the same facts. The readers, hopefully, will find a different kind of crime novel, a psycological drama, a little aside of the conventional rules of a whodunit, which leaves for them to decide (not open) the ultimate question of responsibility.
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