I then got an e-mail from a writer suggesting an interview, and asking for my version of my departure from the States a few years ago. I'm perfectly happy to talk about how I came to Berlin, but it's hard for me to see leaving the States as a radical departure from the norm. Having bought Microcharts only a couple of weeks ago I naturally saw this as a good time to play with it: I put together a table showing time spent in and out of the US from birth to now and converted these into a table of miniature pie charts. If I had ever worked out how to get Parallels up and running again I could have taken a pretty screenshot on my Mac; instead I've had to put Microcharts on the Brontosaurus (aka the Sony Vaio), take a screenshot and paste it into Paint, with this somewhat dowdy result:
For purposes of Mac-Windows comparison, here's a nice clean little screenshot of a couple of pie charts cobbled together in Excel on my MacBook, showing amount of time spent in/out of US a) up to the age of 20 and b) thereafter:
A cursory glance at these graphics shows that the thing that needs explaining is the brief return to the US in the last decade. (Long story. Don't ask.)
While the data may or may not show a strong preference for expatriate life, anyway, the presentation certainly demonstrates a strong preference on the part of the author for telling a story using miniature pie charts. We know this not merely from the use of a handful miniature pie charts, but from the fact that the author has gone out and paid good money for an Excel plug-in which generates miniature pie charts. (That's not all it does: it also generates miniature columns, miniature bar charts, miniature line charts, miniature win-loss charts and a couple of others that I forget.)
This is a preference that actually says quite a lot about a character: the character may be unable to explain things in words, not because she is inarticulate but because patterns of data are better presented in a graphic array. We don't see graphic arrays very often in modern fiction, which means a) that we literally don't see patterns of data about characters that can best be presented in graphic array and b) that texts don't represent a mode of thinking that is characteristic of the type of person who thinks in terms of patterns of distribution.
This is actually rather odd. There are other styles of thought and communication that can't get far using words - music is one very striking example. Musicians can play together without speaking a word of each other's languages; it's very powerful. But that's something one could only represent in a medium that made use of sound; you can't get sound off the printed page. Graphic arrays, on the other hand, are made to be seen; we just never see them.