Wednesday, November 3

The dream of the novel

Tom Chatfield’s “Do writers need paper?“ (Prospect). As the comic novelist Julian Gough told me:
“One of the jobs novels used to do was to create a universe for characters, one that felt believable and complicated. But the complexity of life at the moment is such that no writer is able to keep up. The novel once had a dream of itself as this universal art form that could describe to the world to everybody in a way that everybody could understand, and that no longer rings true.”
Up until the minute I read this, I still had that dream, that the novel could describe the world to everybody in a way that everybody could understand. Now I may be convinced otherwise. It was a startling thought!

I think the better a book is, the better it succeeds at that dream.

But I find it freeing to think that novels no longer have the burden of being universal.

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  1. AMEN to your quote from Julian Gough. Our world is imploding so that homogeneity is the flavour of the day. Books are now written with a specific "market audience" in mind.

    the universal art form still remains. A well written book is good for the soul no matter the genre.

    Life has always been complex,now we have the complexities blaring from TV and announced the nanosecond it occurs on twitter to text. Be that as it may, loosing oneself in a book is still the ultimate travel of the mind.
    Authors have always been and will always be, as long as there is an imagination. There will be someone to tell the story. And someone to read it.

  2. I couldn't agree more with Linda. Books like To Kill a Mockingbird strikes a moral nerve and puts the reader there at a point in time to feel the tension. That's what I tried to do with Timekeeper.
    Great post.

  3. This was one of the rare posts I see that actually provoked deep thought.