The most important person in a novel is the reader. Then the characters. Then the world in which they operate. Then the unstated beliefs that are behind everything that happens in a novel. And then, maybe, just maybe, on the caboose of that wrecking train, comes the writer.
One always has a better book in one’s mind than one can manage to get onto paper.
Given how much we watch and what watching means, it’s inevitable, for those of us fictionists or Joe Briefcases who fancy ourselves voyeurs, to get the idea that these persons behind the glass—persons who are often the most colorful, attractive, animated, alive people in our daily experience—are also the people who are oblivious to the fact that they are watched. This illusion is toxic. It’s toxic for lonely people because it sets up an alienating cycle (viz. “Why can’t I be like that?” etc.), and it’s toxic for writers because it leads us to confuse actual fiction-research with a weird kind of fiction-consumption. Self-conscious people’s oversensitivity to real humans tends to put us before the television and its one-way window in an attitude of relaxed and total reception, rapt. We watch various actors play various characters, etc. For 360 minutes per diem, we receive unconscious reinforcement of the deep thesis that the most significant quality of truly alive persons is watchableness, and that genuine human worth is not just identical with but rooted in the phenomenon of watching. Plus the idea that the single biggest part of real watchableness is seeming to be unaware that there’s any watching going on. Acting natural. The persons we young fiction writers and assorted shut-ins study, feel for, feel through most intently are, by virtue of a genius for feigned unself-consciousness, fit to stand people’s gazes. And we, trying desperately to be nonchalant, perspire creepily on the subway.
I spent my life folded between the pages of books.
In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.
“Have you really read all those books in your room?”
Alaska laughing- “Oh God no. I’ve maybe read a third of ‘em. But I’m going to read them all. I call it my Life’s Library. Every summer since I was little, I’ve gone to garage sales and bought all the books that looked interesting. So I always have something to read.”
If I had the power to prevent my own birth I should certainly never have consented to accept existence under such ridiculous conditions.
People, I have discovered, are layers and layers of secrets. You believe you know them, that you understand them, but their motives are always hidden from you, buried in their own hearts. You will never know them, but sometimes you decide to trust them.