Carver was supposedly reading Tolstoy’s Confession before he died. And A Confession was written when Tolstoy was at the peak of his career, at basically the same age as Carver was, and going through an intense crisis.
He was the most famous writer, and was at the brink of suicide. He was rich, but he didn’t feel any meaning. It’s about the meaning of life, and it’s funny that both these great writers went though the same crisis at the same age. I love Tolstoy and I love Carver. I just turned 51, and I went through the same kind of crisis: What the fuck is life about? What is the meaning? In a way, you get into a melancholic state. And I think the Carver poem could encapsulate everybody’s life. We are all looking for the same thing, affection. That’s what our character was questioning. His ex-wife said to him, “You’re always confusing love for admiration.” And that’s a very dangerous thing that most of us human beings have done.
There is this apocalyptic urgency that has been treated with irony for years, and I try to stay away from irony, which I personally don’t like.
You can come through or not, depending on how dark the cloud is. But I think there’s a time when things that used to satisfy you or you thought were important, you realize are not important. Time is running out, the party lights are blinking, there is no more ice in the bucket. And you begin to realize the party will finish very soon in some way or the other. In A Confession, Tolstoy found meaning that he could hold on to, and he lived for another 30 years.
-Alejandro González Iñárritu, Interview Magazine with Elvis Mitchell, October 2014