Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Reality of Fiction

A post on Katy Evans-Bush's blog reminded me tonight that I hadn't yet read Zadie Smith's Guardian essay on the essay, and I went and did so. I commend to you this article, in which Zadie acknowledges the reality of 'novel-nausea', a sickness with the artificiality of novels in general (which Katy, it seems, strongly shares) and conventional novels in particular, but takes issue with the total condemnation of fiction expressed in a forthcoming book by David Shields.

Funnily enough, I had been intending a blog on this subject myself, ever since I went back, a few weeks ago, to a place where I once lived and which I'd had in mind as one of the 'settings' when I wrote my new novel. Suddenly I found myself in the same street, and suddenly the emotions came back to me that I'd had when I lived there. I hadn't even tried to translate those feelings into the novel, as they weren't appropriate to the story, but it struck me that I never could, not precisely: because those feelings were to do with the inchoate: they belonged to the time before they could be processed, and modified, via logic and the imagination and words.

But then I wondered? Could I? Isn't that my next task as a novelist, to find some way of doing so? To dispense not only with accepted conventions but my own conventions, and write something truly real but nevertheless fictional? Because, like Zadie, I have faith in Werner Herzog's 'ecstatic truth' of fiction.
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