Fiction and life

Fiction and life are different: with fiction, the writer does the hard work for us. Fictional characters are easier to “see”, given a competent novelist – and a competent reader. They are placed at a certain distance, moved this way and that, posed to catch the light, turned to reveal their depth; irony, that infrared camera for filming in the dark, shows them when they are not aware that anyone is looking. But life is different. The better you know someone, the less well you often see them (and the less well they can be transferred into fiction.) They may be so close as to be out of focus, and there is no operating novelist to dispel the blur. Julian Barnes, Nothing To Be Frightened Of

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