A Writer’s Notes #25

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES? Here’s E.L Doctorow’s summary: “Ours is a world made for liars and novelists are born liars. But we are to be trusted because ours is the only profession forced to admit that it lies—and that bestows upon us the mantle of honesty.” Thomas Mallon, author of the recently published “Finale: A Novel of the Reagan Years adds this: “If I had been unwilling to deviate from what Gore Vidal used to call ‘the agreed upon facts,’ there wouldn’t have been much point to writing a novel instead of a history. I was trying to get at some larger truth through a particular lie, which is finally what all fiction, historical and otherwise, has to do.” And Ayana Mathis, author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie says: “Truth and fact are not the same things. Fiction generates truth independently of fact; it is a repository of meanings and resonances to which the writer does indeed have a great responsibility.”

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