Admittedly, plenty of bad novels exist, books upon which I wouldn't spend more than the minute necessary to peruse their dust jackets. But over the years I've discovered that many folks feel fiction resides on a lower plane than other types of literature, with only a few noteworthy examples worth the attention of anyone sensible. At least our friend was willing to give our suggestions a go. Others, I discovered, smile and mentally debit me a position or two in their internal standing when they learn of my novel-loving ways.
Are they right? Do we squander our hours and days when we read fiction in general and genre fiction in particular? I think not, and following are some reasons that I brainstormed:
• Life is narrative-shaped; why not explore that structure in every written form?There, dear readers, are some of the bare bones of my apologetic. What are yours? Why do you read about people who never were and places that never existed?
• Both factual and imaginary stories have been used as teaching tools throughout history.
• Imagination isn't unconnected to intelligent inquiry; in fact, the latter is often inextricably linked to the former.
• Fictional narratives almost always contain ruminations on and conclusions about universal human experience, albeit often subtly and implicitly.
• Beauty can serve as a gentle snare, the delights of a story cinching its themes around readers so softly that they often fail to realize it.
• Stories have swayed the course of empires and nations, from Virgil's Aeneid to Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. (Consider how Lincoln famously said to Stowe, "So you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war!")
• None of us live entirely pragmatic lives, seeking food only for its nutrition, homes solely for their weather-worthiness, spouses merely for provision and reproduction. As Pascal wrote, "All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end." Fiction is as valid an outlet for enjoyment as any other.
(Picture: CC 2010 by azrasta)