Rutherfurd on Rutherfurd


The Maya

Q. You left after a while - to write. How did your boss Waterstone take it?

A. He was a prince. When I left, he said: "I have more sympathy with what you're doing than you suppose." As he later went on to write three novels of his own, there may even have been some wistfulness in that remark.

Q. You had two very different projects in mind. The first was a big historical novel about the classical Maya.

A. It's a fascinating subject. Why was it, a thousand years ago, that this spectacular Central American culture with its magnificent pyramids and its mathematical genius suddenly and mysteriously collapsed? A wonderful subject, potentially.

Q. You went to the Yucatan Peninsula?

A. For months. I'd saved a bit. Travel in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize was cheap. The setting was inspiring and the research fascinating. But the technical process of putting such a complex novel together proved to be daunting, and eventually there was nothing to do but put the project aside for a while. As it turned out, this was just as well, because historians have completely reevaluated the Maya since that time, and my account of Mayan culture would have been entirely inaccurate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did You Know?
In Manhattan in the early to mid nineteenth century, scores of pigs roamed the streets – about 20,000 of them at peak population in the early 1820’s, a ratio of roughly one pig to every five humans ! Many of them belonged to families. The city was quickly growing in the nineteenth century – in population and wealth disparity. Despite rapid urbanization, non-wealthy New Yorkers continued raising hogs as a means of surviving. A family could always slaughter one of its pigs to feed itself, or sell one of them since pork was a staple of the American diet. Why pigs? Other animals weren’t quite so compatible with urban life. People could let their pigs wander the streets, rummage through trash for the piles of spoiled food that was left out on the street during the day, and count on them to return home in the evening !




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