In a recent tweet, Keith D. Dolley quoted Tim O’Brien saying that fiction is “for getting at the truth when the truth isn’t sufficient for the truth.” This is such a simple way of saying that fiction gets closer to the heart of the human condition than forms of discourse that attempt to explain it. Writers of fiction prefer to describe the experience of being alive. They allow the reader to draw his own conclusions and find his own meaning.
The wonder of fiction lies in the way it draws a picture of what the writer finds inside his made-up characters, of what they say and do in places and situations that can be seen and felt, and of their reflections about what concerns them. I believe that most lovers of fiction prefer understanding that comes without explanation. They feel it goes deeper. This one – who loves to read and write it – questions the entire enterprise of trying to prove something. Perhaps that is unfair of me!
Tim got to the heart of this subject so much faster than I did!
So, a question for you, whether you read, write, or do both: Do you think that creating an imagined set of characters in imagined relationships and situations is more or less likely to discover truths and meanings about the experience of being alive than a discourse aimed at making conclusions?
I’d enjoy hearing what you think?