Story – Robert McKee's Creative Storytelling Magazine Issue 005 – Drew Carey - Page 56

MCKEE INTERVIEWS STEVEN PRESSFIELD in the North African desert, World War II, trying to kill Rommel, the head general of the African Corps. It’s told from the point of view of a young British lieutenant who will turn out to be an editor and publisher—a very literate, literary guide. The story seems to be a war story all the way through, and then in the end, there’s an epilogue that’s his funeral as an older man. He died in his 80s. In the end you see how these events in wartime changed him and made him fall in love with the novel and with the idea of sharing human experience. He had killed some people in this thing that he felt terrible about, and he felt that the war really impressed upon him the fact that the enemy was human beings just like we are. They could have been friends, so why were they trying to kill us? Why were we killing them? And so his afterlife was sort of a penance for that in a way. When the book is all done, what’s written seems to be a war story, but it’s really about a literary man. It’s really about a man who was trying, through art, to ameliorate some of the pain of the world and to bring people together in a way. It’s really sort of a peon to literature. And I didn’t know that until the whole thing was over. RM: Looking back on all of it, if I could suggest a grand theme, is would be that the virtue of war forces men—human beings—to act under pressure to either become a better person or a worse person. That somehow there is a moral relationship between the choices that a person has to make in life and death, and their destiny as a human being. Is that right? SP: Yes. In fact, I think that you could even do a parallel to private eyes, as again, you’ve talked about, like a Philip Marlowe or somebody will have evolv