"The novel is a gesture art. We don’t need to know more about Mr
Bingley’s body than that he’s ‘wonderfully handsome’, or (at first) that
Hans Castorp looks like ‘an ordinary young man’. We couldn’t describe
them to a police sketch artist and expect to get anything back. Gatsby,
first spotted, is ‘standing with his hands in his pockets regarding the
silver pepper of the stars. Something in his leisurely movements and the
secure position of his feet upon the lawn suggested that it was Mr
Gatsby himself’ – that’s it – while Daisy’s face is ‘sad and lovely with
bright things in it’. We project, we fill in. Some writers hardly seem
to give their characters bodies at all, or can’t make up their minds
about them: Emma Bovary’s eyes are black in one chapter, in other
chapters brown or blue."
From Deborah Friedell's review
of Lionel Shriver's Big Brother
, London Review of Books.