A reader recently pointed out that he had read The Rules twice and only just noticed that there is only one proper name in the whole book. While writing the book, when I first noticed what was happening, I was a little surprised as well.
I think the effect I was after was so interior, so much inside Harvey’s own head, that the external details were just not relevant. We live incredibly individual lives, but the spectrum of our responses to what happens is fairly constrained — or at least it seems finite to me. What was important in understanding Harvey wasn’t the specific details of his life experience, but rather how he reacted, what happened to his attention, what he thought about the things that occurred. That’s why The Rules isn’t really a novel in the conventional sense — a story. It has a plot, of sorts, but it has only two characters (Rule 6), and they might really be only one character (Rule 6a).