Yes, I saw the movie first, many times. I craved the pinging echoes and the claustrophobia of men living like rats. No triumphant American army come to sweep up the European debris of 1944, flexing muscles that haven’t known suffering.
GMs get asked this question all the time. We give idealized answers, offering the paths to improvement we wish we had followed ourselves. It’s a lie. But I’ve decided that it’s an interesting lie. Here is mine:
Each review of Lisa has given me a better understanding of what my project was about. Like mirrors, they show what the reader saw of themself in the book. Most have been by chessplaying men (Amazon reviews are here, Goodreads are here). But no one has identified more strongly with the protagonist than Fianna, who brings some of her own charming experiences into the story. Watching her helped me remember that we all bring our own life into every text we read, but that – as adults – we pretend that we are reading someone else’s story.
I think I’m a chess doper. This is my confession.
In writing Lisa, I broke with a fundamental literary convention: I did very little to hide the identities of the people on whom characters were based, sometimes nothing.
The main reason I decided to publish Lisa myself was that I wanted full aesthetic responsibility. I especially needed to be behind the face of the book. So many books I love are marred by an incongruent picture that somebody else slapped on it. And this experience creates the impression that you have to go past the cover, like some kind of barrier, to get to what the author really wants to say.