The Truth In Fiction, Ctd

Feb 17 2013 @ 12:22pm

Ian McEwan admits he’s occasionally doubted the God of fiction:

Like a late victorian clergyman sweating in the dark over his Doubts, I have moments when my faith in fiction falters and then comes to the edge of collapse. I find myself asking, “Am I really a believer?” And then, “Was I ever?” First to go are the disjointed, upended narratives of experimental fiction. Oh well … Next, the virgin birth miracle of magical realism. But I was always Low Church on that one. It’s when the icy waters of skepticism start to rise round the skirts of realism herself that I know my long night has begun. All meaning has drained from the enterprise. Novels? I don’t know how or where to suspend my disbelief. What imaginary Henry said or did to nonexistent Sue, and Henry’s lonely childhood, his war, his divorce, his ecstasy and struggle with the truth and how he’s a mirror to the age—I don’t believe a word: not the rusty device of pretending that the weather has something to do with Henry’s mood, not the rusty device of pretending.

However, a childhood revelation reminds him that fiction can also contain all that’s true:

Things that never happened can tangle with things that did, an imaginary being can hold hands with the flesh-and-blood real. He may live in your house, as a Henry of my own once did, or he may read all that you have read and even make love to your wife. The atheist may lie down with the believer, the encyclopedia with the poem. Everything absorbed and wondered at in the faithless months—science, math, history, law, and all the rest—can be brought with you and put to use when you return yet again to the one true faith.

Recent Dish on the truth in fiction here.