: views from the Hill

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Michael Allen (The Grumpy Old Bookman) on novels and story telling.

Michael Allen (the Grumpy Old Bookman) reviews Dara Horn: The World To Come, and makes some interesting comments about fiction writing in general.

... the novel which eschews all attempt at Deeper Significance, and just tells a story, is at least as valuable (actually rather more so) than one which seeks to weave in some message or other. At one point in the book, Der Nister is told that a painting doesn't have to mean anything, but a story does. And we are left in little doubt that Dara Horn believes in that principle. But personally I don't. A story, in my opinion, doesn't have to mean anything. But it does have to have an effect; otherwise both writer and reader are lost. And the story also has to have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Apart from that, just leave the damn thing alone. Let it speak for itself, and let the reader draw from it whatever conclusions she wishes; if she wishes. And if she chooses to value the book just for its emotional effect, rather than for its insights into the Meaning of Life, so much the better.

Grumpy Old Bookman blog

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