The news has been horrifying and addictive this week, with catastrophe piled on catastrophe, to a degree that–if I had read this in a book or seen it in a movie–I’d be protesting that it was just too unlikely, too farfetched.
But topics for novels get ripped from the headlines all the time. Or real-life events remind you of fiction (whether “believable” or not) that you’ve read but never expected to see. Or real life comes up with an event so unbelievable that it stretches your sense of reality.
Hmm … I can’t quite come up with an outright question to ask, but thinking about the theory of fiction and how it can affect and be affected by real world events can act as a buffer between the horrific events on the news and having to actually face that horror. So … what happens when the line between fiction and reality becomes all-too slim? Discuss!
I’ll respond to this query with a quote from Stephen King’s Misery.
In a book, all would have gone according to plan… but life was so fucking untidy—what could you say for an existence where some of the most crucial conversations of your life took place when you needed to take a shit, or something? An existence where there weren’t even any chapters? (297)
Fiction is made up of the same stuff as life—yes, even speculative fiction, naysayers. Even the most farfetched fictional plot has some grounding in reality. Readers feel cheated when fiction mimics the chaos of life; you just have to look at the reaction to the end of Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper to see that. No matter how porous the line seems to be in terms of content (and it’s supposed to be porous), fiction is, ultimately, organized.
- King, Stephen. Misery. New York: Viking, 1987. Print.