The fictionally correct have all the answers, and that's what's wrong with them. They're artistic technocrats. There's no dilemma so knotty, no question so baffling, that it can't be smoothly neutralized by dialing up the right attitude adjustment. Poor old Hemingway. If only he'd known.
I read somewhere once that in the 1960s, fiction writers were troubled by the notion that life was becoming stranger and more sensational than made-up stories could ever hope to be. Our new problem - more profound, I think - is that life no longer resembles a story. Events intersect but don't progress. People interact but don't make contact.
Here's how adaptation works - almost everything in the movie is in the book in some form. But it's as though the deck has been completely reshuffled and some of the cards have been assigned different values, some of the fours have been made into jacks, and some of the jacks have been made into twos.
The success that Americans are said to worship is success of a specific sort: accomplished not through hard work, primarily, but through the ingenious angle, the big break. Sit down at a lunch counter, stand back up a star. Invest in a new issue and watch it soar. Split a single atom, win a war.
A true nature is a gloomy monolith, sort of like that old black rotary phone that I had to sing 'Happy Birthday' to Grandpa on. But novelists, damn us, still need true natures - so we can give them to our protagonists. And so readers can vaguely predict how they'll behave when we trap them in 'situations' that they can't IM their way out of.
The reason that last-ditch political maneuvering has become business as usual in Washington is that the actors involved are drunk on blame and are convinced that the voting public is, too. They count on outrage, thereby spreading numbness. They cherish the prospect of partisan fury, thereby inspiring nonpartisan disgust.
To young people born under the weird planet of the SAT, intelligence was equated with agility, with raw acuity. It produced a certain sort of person of which I was a typical specimen: the mental contortionist, able to rise to almost every challenge placed before him, except the challenge of real self-knowledge.
Size matters in fiction, but so does lack of size. Everything else being equal, fat novels tend to be perceived as serious, very thin ones as more honest, more real. Writers address these age-old expectations by filling their big books with philosophy and cramming their little ones with feeling.
No matter how you cut them, paste them, rotate them, or distort them, lip syncing and air-guitar playing are fundamentally foolish activities, and anyone seen to be engaging in them with anything approaching a straight face is, by definition, taking herself or himself much too seriously.