Monday Miscellany

Nothing Is More Real Than Fiction

Over on BookRiot Greg Zimmerman praises the power of ficiton:

I get really angry when someone says they don’t read fiction because it’s all made up and “not real.” Bullshit! Nothing is more real than fiction. Nothing helps us make sense of the real world more than fiction. Nothing instills in us empathy for others like fiction. As David Foster Wallace said, “Fiction’s about what it is to be a fucking human being.” That’s my favorite quote of all time, because nothing more true has ever been said.

He’s right, you know.

Everything Is Fiction

Writing on The New Yorker‘s Page-Turner blog, novelist Keith Ridgway takes an approach that’s a bit different from Zimmerman’s (above) but that arrives at a similar conclusion:

And I mean that—everything is fiction. When you tell yourself the story of your life, the story of your day, you edit and rewrite and weave a narrative out of a collection of random experiences and events. Your conversations are fiction. Your friends and loved ones—they are characters you have created. And your arguments with them are like meetings with an editor—please, they beseech you, you beseech them, rewrite me. You have a perception of the way things are, and you impose it on your memory, and in this way you think, in the same way that I think, that you are living something that is describable. When of course, what we actually live, what we actually experience—with our senses and our nerves—is a vast, absurd, beautiful, ridiculous chaos.

So I love hearing from people who have no time for fiction. Who read only biographies and popular science. I love hearing about the death of the novel. I love getting lectures about the triviality of fiction, the triviality of making things up. As if that wasn’t what all of us do, all day long, all life long. Fiction gives us everything. It gives us our memories, our understanding, our insight, our lives. We use it to invent ourselves and others. We use it to feel change and sadness and hope and love and to tell each other about ourselves. And we all, it turns out, know how to do it.

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James Patterson
James Patterson (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)

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