Fiction is my sanity at the end of long semesters, but it has not always been so. Only in the last few years have I so exhausted of my analytic and pedagogical self and retreated to fiction. What I find is life, or maybe better said the creative retelling of life. To describe that life I can only say that it’s true.
There are ways for talking about fiction’s “truth” of course. Yann Martel’s character Henry from Beatrice and Virgil describes it this way:
Fiction may not be real, but it’s true; it goes beyond the garland of facts to get to emotional and psychological truths. As for nonfiction, for history, it may be real, but its truth is slippery, hard to access, with no fixed meaning bolted to it. If history doesn’t become story, it dies to everyone except the historian. Art is the suitcase of history, carrying the essentials. Art is the life buoy of history. Art is seed, art is memory, art is vaccine (p. 16)
My habit has been to spend an entire year with an author and her work. It started with Shakespeare, then it was Dostoevsky, then Marilyn Robinson, then Yann Martel (I tried John Banville, but, despite his gorgeous prose, his melancholy was too much). When the end of this semester arrives where will I go next? I am thinking about Steinbeck, beginning with East of Eden.
I am quite open for other suggestions though. Into whose fiction do you run for sanity?