What Would Enid Think?

Daniel Clowes tells the Guardian that he finds writing female characters easier than writing male ones:

“With every male character I feel like I either have to consciously make it not myself or I have to make it myself,” he says. “In the case of these girls, there’s a certain freedom. I just don’t feel any connection to them. I don’t feel like I have to represent myself.”

I wonder: What does it mean when a writer doesn’t feel a connection to his characters? What does it mean when this lack of connection represents freedom to the writer? Not having to represent oneself can be freeing, I understand, but maybe Clowes would be a better writer–of both male and female characters– if he didn’t suffer from a thought process which forces him to see characters as either himself, not himself, or female.

Ghost World did absolutely nothing for me. I went to three different high schools, one of which was British, the school system I was brought up in. But that’s not why. When I moved to the US, the books I loved reading in English class and in the library were Red Badge of Courage, Old Man and the Sea, The Scarlet Letter, and Norman Mailer’s Marilyn Monroe bio. It’s probably because these books had characters I could relate to, because their creators were free of something Clowes and others like him are tethered by. If someone had given me Ghost World when I was in high school, I would have taken it back, gotten my $12 or whatever, and bought myself books I could relate to. Or cassettes of bad techno.

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