The Good Author Invites The Reader In

Antoine Wiertz - The Reader of Novels

Antoine Wiertz - The Reader of Novels

I think that novels tend to fail not when the characters are not vivid or deep enough, but when the novel in question has failed to teach us how to adapt to its conventions, has failed to manage a specific hunger for its own characters, its own reality-level. In such cases, our appetite is quickly disappointed, and surges wildly in excess of what we are provided, and we tend to blame the author for not giving us enough - the characters, we complain, are not alive or round or free enough. Yet we would not dream of accusing Sebold or Woolf or Roth - none of whom is especially interested in creating character in the solid, old-fashioned nineteenth-century sense - of letting us down in this way, because they have so finely tutored us in their own conventions, their own expansive limitations, to be satisfied with just what they give us. - James Wood, How Fiction Works

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