Wednesday, September 7, 2011


The great, if subliminal, appeal of traditional fiction—stories, novels, plays—is that they present us with wholes made up of carefully designed parts well fitted together.  They may be life-like tales, but they are radically unlike life in their being made up and intentionally created. 

Whereas stories are designed, life happens.  Or so a skeptic would say, not believing in an authorial divinity who shapes our ends, roughhew them how we will.

Thus we turn to fiction for what we lack in life: design, intention, comprehensibility; the satisfaction of wholeness, conclusion and meaning.  We escape into fiction’s meaningful schemes and plots all destined to end as the author has prescribed, not necessarily happily, but explicably and often justifiably.

Explanation (“Why?”) and justification (“Because”) are, in daily life, notably rare.  But a good story is some compensation or, at the least, an escape.