“Before you have the assumptions implicit in the first sentence, anything could happen. But once you have that sentence, you’ve narrowed your options down to a point where there really isn’t that much left to write.” —Dag Solstad https://t.co/gxCviUWqoC
— The Paris Review (@parisreview) August 6, 2018
— Vintage Books (@vintagebooks) August 4, 2018
27 days left to watch on BBC iPlayer (UK only)
“Angela Carter’s surreal imagination produced some of the most dazzling fiction of the last century. Pioneering her own distinctive brand of ‘magic realism,’ works like The Magic Toyshop and Nights at the Circus cracked open the middle-class conventions of the postwar novel and influenced a new generation of writers.”
For short story lovers, it’s her collection “The Bloody Chamber” that hits home. But, of course, it’s always novels that get more attention.
“The author Kate Walbert joins Deborah Treisman to read and discuss “Pet Milk,” by Stuart Dybek, from a 1984 issue of the magazine.”
Source: New Yorker Fiction (Twitter)
The joy of fiction is not in finding out what the writer knows, it’s the writer finding out what we know. Characters the writer hated turn out to be better than the writer imagined. Characters the writer loved were not all they were cracked-up to be. If non-fiction is for us to find out what the author knows then maybe fiction is an exploration in which the author sets out to discover what we know. Then like other discoveries, it sounds obvious when we hear it. We knew that all along.
Reading fiction is following with the logic of music, notes that establish a theme, counterpoint, development, allegro, largo, andante, the theme returns, resolution… The music is out there; it’s David in a block of marble, stories in the burble of a café, the susurration of congregants, the gull cries of a spoon stirring medicine in a glass, the sound of a small hammer on tin, which turns out to be a finch, the train sound from miles away that only carries on moonless nights…
(And always a basketball bouncing, though nobody round here plays basketball. Always children babbling and shrieking, though there are no children round here. Sometimes a jet flies low overhead though we’re not on any flight path. Helicopters hovering where the streets are too small to land. The same Jehovah’s witnesses call every couple of months, disbelieving the mezzuzah. Visits by the Seventh Day Adventists are settling into a pattern. The Church of Latter Day Saints is overstretched. A hungry teen with crow’s feet round his eyes sells flannels from a tray while a Merc. waits round the corner. The parcelmen knock and run away.)
But what does it matter? Turn the page, our hero is going somewhere, to where people are and there will be tea, JD, opium and lashings of ginger ale.
We are the lost tribe, the lost tribe of us, enrapt in a florid delusion of consciousness, where spirits live in history, and offerings are made on stage to gods of theatre, and there are such laughable concepts as careers, status, security and wisdom. Where everyone is a shaman drunk on industry, spinning in train carriages of spear-carrying accountants, trouping in powdery makeup through jungles of wire.
Originally published in my blog Museum of Illusions (2011)