Q&A with Malcolm Gladwell, Author of What the Dog Saw
MG: Aside from the Ron Popeil story, I really love the piece I wrote about being plagiarized, "Something Borrowed." And there's a piece about late bloomers (called, not surprisingly, "Late Bloomers,") that's one of my favorites as well. I wrote dozens of drafts of "Late Bloomers" before I got it right, and I'm glad I did. I think its one of the most moving pieces in the collection. It's all about a lawyer who quits his job and sits down to write fiction in his late 20s—and finally breaks through two decades later. And how? Because of the support of his wife. It's really a love story.
FL: You often write about inventions and inventors. Have you ever tried to invent anything? What inventions do you think you couldn't—or at least wouldn't want to—live without?
MG: Oh my. I could never invent anything. I think that's why inventors fascinate me so much, because they have a way of looking at the world that I could never match. I can't even do crossword puzzles, and I'm the worst Scrabble player in my family. My mind doesn't work that way. My favorite invention? Well, I'm a big runner and the person or people who invented the modern running shoe have my everlasting thanks.
FL: Your writing uncovers hidden and subconscious ways we perceive the world. What are you most curious about in yourself?
MG: I'm not very self-reflective. I think that's part of why I'm so interested in other people's lives. I've always thought of myself as kind of boring. And when you think that, you are driven to fill your life with ideas and experiences from the outside. But the thing I wonder most about myself is probably the question of introversion and extroversion. I'm quiet and shy and private. And yet I also love getting up and giving talks and telling stories. I've never really understood that combination of personality traits.