In Pullinger's new novel, Landing Gear, she expands on a story she started as a multimedia project in 2007, Flight Paths: A Networked Novel. The story follows Harriet, who is finding that her domestic duties in suburbia prove tougher than her former life as a radio host. During a mundane trip to the supermarket, her world is turned upside down when a man falls out of an airplane and onto the top of her car — and survives. In 2009, Pullinger won Canada's Governor General's Literary Award for fiction for her novel Mistress of Nothing, a fictionalized tale of Sally Naldrett, a lady's maid for Lady Duff-Gordon, who traveled to Egypt with her in Victorian times. We caught up with Pullinger, who teaches creative writing and digital media at Bath Spa University, by phone from her home office in London.
What's on your nightstand?
The book that I just finished reading is Kate Atkinson's Life After Life. It's a British novel that comes from a very well-established writer here. Life After Life is amazing. It has a very unusual structure. The main character is born in the first part of the 20th century and dies over and over again. It's very readable, and it really is a great novel concerning "what-ifs.''
How did she pull it off? It sounds like it would be a difficult story to write.
As a writer, it made me think about what she was doing with the structure. In order to pull it off, you have to know about structure but also about how to tell a good story. It seems really difficult, but it is either her eighth or ninth novel, so I think you feel you're in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing. There's such confidence in this story. What could potentially be rather confusing or rather repetitive is not that at all.
Piper Castillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4163.