WellesleyWeston Magazine

FALL 2018

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

Issue link: https://wellesleywestonmagazine.epubxp.com/i/1011917

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WWM: Your best-known novel is Einstein's Dreams, a literary study of time, which has been translated into 30 languages and is a com- mon book on many college campuses. Was this a book that allowed you to straddle the scientific and artistic? Is this your favorite of your books, or do you prefer another? AL: When I was writing Einstein's Dreams, I had to fight the impulse to make each dream world logically consistent. That would have made it a science book, weighed it down, and ruined it. However, I think my life in science was important in writing that book. I don't think looking at the ways that time behaves would have occurred to a non-scientist. In terms of my favorite books, it's hard to separate my own feelings for a book from the more popular reactions. There are several books I'm particularly fond of and some I have no fondness for, where I've taken a wrong turn as a writer. That said, the pieces of writing I like the most are Einstein's Dreams; Time Travel and Papa Joe's Pipe (Scribner, 1984), one of my first collections of essays; and Mr. G (Pantheon Books, 2012), because it has a whimsy like Einstein's Dreams. I'm also proud of some of my newer work like the essays in The Accidental Universe (Vintage Books, 2014), and I feel good about my memoir Screening Room (Pantheon Books, 2015). WWM: Einstein's Dreams, which takes place in Switzerland, has a very strong sense of place, as do your other novels. You used Boston-area landmarks throughout your acclaimed novel The Diagnosis. Has living in the area provided fodder for the backgrounds of your books? AL: I believe so since the area is so rich in scenery and history. I do think that one of my strengths as a writer is that I have a strong sense of place. My ability to bring a place or scene to life possibly originated from hav- ing watched many movies as a child, since my father was a movie the- ater owner. I was always conscious of scene setting, where the camera was, and what details were being shown or hidden. As a result, scene setting became an important part of my literary sensibility. Sometimes an interview with alan lightman 66 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | f a l l 2 0 1 8

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