It comes down to this: Writing novels requires an obsession with our truths. Those truths are not put into novels for witnesses but for co-conspirators. The good novelist knows that Truth is always accompanied by its silent partner: Guilt. She knows that our humanity makes us responsible for events that transpire in this world. She knows, too, that we're not willing to accept the blame. We don't see our culpability even though it's our dollars being spent, our God we prefer above all others, our own image in that silvered mirror that becomes our standard for beauty and innocence. The novelist has the potential to shine light on these blind sides. But she must do it deftly, with a sharp beam. Blindside a reader, and you forfeit everything.
For me there is no such thing as fiction without poetry and politics. If you excise either one, you have taken the heart of us all. You won't get rich following my advice, but you may come up with something close to true.
Monday, November 21, 2005
A wonderful article by Walter Mosley just appeared in The Washington Post--The Writing Life: On the novelist's obligation to employ politics and poetry. I especially love the final paragraphs: