Consoling fictions

So rather than hold up a mirror to nature—or viewing the world as a stage from some seat, somehow (how?) situated off of the world-stage itself—my imagination has been captured by experimenting with holding up mirrors to holding up mirrors. When writers such as Fielding did the same, it was not merely a narrative hiccup, or a bump in the road to creating the type of fiction that is now more mainstream. It was and is fundamentally, metaphysically at odds with more familiar fiction that aims to be represent reality. This is not an argument that all fiction should be metafictional or absurdist or heady. But it does seem to me that what is now generally accepted as “fiction” emerged out of an essentialism that is oddly consoling in its reduction of each individual to a particular set of characteristics, and the reality they inhabit a background distinct from this self. At worst, behind this form are assumptions about identity and reality that may prevent us from really knowing or loving ourselves or each other, and certainly shield us from mystery.

–Bonnie Nadzam, What Should Fiction Do?


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