Why Read Fiction? A Perspective

So, what's this lady in a boat got to do with anything?

When was the last time you read a book for fun? For education? For spiritual enlightenment?

When was the last time it was all the same book?

If you’ve been studying here under the Hogwarts Professor, I’m guessing that might be pretty recently. But I think for many readers—including myself, in fact—the association between basking in a good story, didactic reception of knowledge, and the spiritual apotheosis of great art isn’t immediate or easy. It’s an old trope but it’s a true trope: we of the West have learned how to compartmentalise.*

The problem with implicit assumptions about the world, of course, is that they’re implicit. It takes a lot of self-scrutiny and a willingness to succumb to an outside critique from art and truth to expose them.

So what do you do when you’re too busy to read those sorts of books, watch those sorts of films, visit those sorts of galleries? What do you do when you’ve been trained to operate within rigid compartments and methods of scrutiny that ignore the silent power of Story? What do you do when you’re supposed to be the one with all the answers?

Mike Duran of deCOMPOSE, author of The Resurrection (Realms/Strang, 2011), asks similar questions in a recent blog post: ‘5 Reasons Why Your Pastor Should Read Fiction.’ [Read more…]

Hot New Parable Novel? Firelight by Sophie Jordan

One of my younger boys’ favorite book series is Warriors by Erin Hunter, actually several series now of novels about feral cats. They enjoy it so much that they have written stories along Warrior lines just one step short of fan fiction and written to the author. Last Saturday the author wrote back.

To say the letter left them a little confused, albeit still delighted to have received any response, is to put it mildly. It turns out the author isn’t really the author but one of four authors, that the idea wasn’t hers but a publishing house’s idea that they shopped to several writers, and that the name ‘Erin Hunter’ is a pseudonym that was chosen so the Warrior books would be shelved in bookstores in close proximity to Brian Jacques’ Redwall books (all of which my boys and I have read and loved). Did the form letter have to be that informative?

[Read more…]

Shared Text: The Advent of ‘Parable Novel’ Mania

I was asked last week by a major periodical to share what my current thinking was about the Harry Potter novels. The editors were curious if I had anything ‘new’ on my mind about these books that they could publish in the run-up to the release of the first ‘Deathly Hallows’ film, at the beginning of the end, if you will. I’m not sure if they’ll be interested in publishing what I’m thinking these days, but I thought I’d share with you the preliminary notes I sent them. My thesis is this: Ms. Rowling’s success (and the success of Harry’s progeny, the books that probably wouldn’t have been published or found the audience they have except for Harry) has turned the literary world upside-up, with allegorical and serial ‘Young Adult’ books restoring the novel to its original popularity, power, and relevance. [Read more…]