There are many reasons why novelists write, but they all have one thing in common - a need to create an alternative world.
I’m always on the lookout for old books that look like these.
Illustration of girl reading about Jonah by Dorothy P. Lathrop from Hitty - Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field. The MacMillan Company, New York, 1929. First edition. Classic Tale of Phoebe Preble’s Doll. Newbery Award.
"There was a painful picture of a man being swallowed by a large fish."
"It would be better for me … that multitudes of men should disagree with me rather than that I, being one, should be out of harmony with myself.’
—Socrates, 482c, as reported by Plato in “Gorgias”
The multiple narrators of Mark Z. Danielewski’s novel present a trail of imaginary footnotes and conflicting information for us to sort through. Characters openly admit to their unreliability and mock us for trusting them. The tale isn’t just labyrinthine in content, but also in structure. Did you really expect to find a trustworthy source in a novel that looks like this?
Scattered through the ordinary world there are books and artifacts and perhaps people who are like doorways into impossible realms, of impossible and contradictory truth.
The daily routine of most adults is so heavy and artificial that we are closed off to much of the world. We have to do this in order to get our work done. I think one purpose of art is to get us out of those routines. When we hear music or poetry or stories, the world opens up again.
"Years ago, before the trains stopped running on so many of the branch lines, a woman with a high, freckled forehead and a frizz of reddish hair came into the railway station and inquired about shipping furniture. The station agent often tried a little teasing with women, especially the plain ones who seemed to appreciate it."
—from “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage”
In the planning stage of a book, don’t plan the ending. It has to be earned by all that will go before it.