History and Fiction

You must be logged in to create new topics.

History and Fiction

Tags:
  • B.K. Marcus

    Audible.com has asked some famous writers to name the books that changed their lives. I found this answer especially interesting:

    “The USA trilogy, by John Dos Passos, completely changed my view of fiction. I realized after reading these three books that history was the source of all drama, and that the artist, if he wished for his work to be remembered, had better be a good student of it; otherwise, his themes will dwell upon the self and be consigned to the province of the narcissist and have no duration at all. ” –James Lee Burke

    Jeff Riggenbach (@riggenbach) talks about Dos Passos in Why American History Is Not What They Say.

    You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

  • Frank Marcopolos

    BK, In my opinion this applies equally to literature and philosophy. Literature with no philosophical value will tend not to stand the test of time.

    You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

    B.K. Marcus

    My first inclination is to agree, but then I think of all the clunky philosophical passages in, e.g., Rand and Heinlein, that bring the quality of the writing down.

    What would you offer as a counterexample, something philosophically rich and of a high literary quality?

    You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

    Frank Marcopolos

    Yes, and that is the main problem with Rand and most philosophically oriented science fiction in general. Too heavy-handed and one-sided. The place to find deeper philosophical themes is in literary fiction. Literary fiction, if done well, presents a theme not as an answer but as more of a question. It raises a theme in order to invite a dialogue about that theme. Therefore, it requires more time and investment from the reader. With Rand, once you understand Objectivism, you’re either basically in agreement with it, or not. So, there’s little need to read the text. Also, those types of works tend to neglect other writing techniques that make stories richer. Writers to consider would be: David Foster Wallace, Ricard Ford, Raymond Carver, JD Salinger, and many others.

    You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

    B.K. Marcus

    So if you had to choose a short example for someone to start with, what book would you recommend, Frank?

    You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

    Frank Marcopolos

    Well, I might start with some short fiction first. “All That” by David Foster Wallace, for example: All That.

    Or “Sex After Not Having Seen Each Other for a Few Days” by Tao Lin.

    Other than these, the collection “Rock Springs” by Ford is excellent. Other stories of note are “The Babysitter” by Coover, and “The Swimmer” by Cheever. These are anthologized frequently, and may be available online somewhere.

    The Wallace and Lin stories have also been discussed on recent episodes of my podcast, so if a reader is interesting in hearing a multi-voiced debate about them, there is that resource available as well.

    You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.