The Night Circus, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and the Handmaid's Tale. Reading this week by headlamp, without the distraction of Internet and electrical (time-saving) appliances, was delightful and reflective. It gave me time to think about types of fictional writing. Some works are escapist, allowing a full and complete immersion into another world. A blissful disconnect from reality. By contrast, other works provide such a disparate setting, premise or characters that you can only relate to them through a comparison of your own concept of reality. These works invite a dialog between the text and the reader. To parse out the significance of big philosophical ideas like cruelty, or fidelity. Or to contemplate the quirks of a character. But whether your taste is for escapism or a contemplative novel, the real deal in fiction....... is the story. This chewy quote from The Night Circus flies straight to the heart of story:
Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There's magic in that. It's in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in somone's soul, becomes their blood and self purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words.
And you? What are you looking forward to reading during the quiet moments of the holiday season? Will it move you to contemplation? Or whisk you away?