Why to write a novel, and even more, why not

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Fri Jul 11, 2014 6:57 pm Post

Javier Marías is currently looked on as the finest Spanish novelist — meaning a novelist from Spain, not merely one who writes in Spanish. I'm not yet persuaded he's better than Carlos Ruiz Zafón, but he's pretty damn good.

Anyhow, to the topic. There's an article by Marías, translated nicely into English, in Threepenny Review. Title: "Seven Reasons Not to Write Novels and Only One Reason to Write Them." [http://www.threepennyreview.com/samples/marias_su14.html]

My favorite line:

Writing novels allows the novelist to spend much of his time in a fictional world, which is really the only or at least the most bearable place to be. This means that he can live in the realm of what might have been and never was, and therefore in the land of what is still possible, of what will always be about to happen, what has not yet been dismissed as having happened already or because everyone knows it will never happen.
You can't conquer stupid — or cure it — with more stupid.

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Sat Jul 12, 2014 12:58 am Post

Just brilliant.

Beware of realism when writing. Avoid the usual zoo inhabitants. Summon the unicorns and the tritons, and give them reality!
--Julio Cortázar

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Sat Jul 12, 2014 6:54 am Post

Great article, PJS. Thanks for the link. The part that most struck a chord with me was:
The so-called realistic novelist, who, when he writes, remains firmly installed in the real world, has confused his role with that of the historian or journalist or documentary-maker. The real novelist does not reflect reality, but unreality, if we take that to mean not the unlikely or the fantastical, but simply what could have happened and did not, the very contrary of actual facts and events and incidents, the very contrary of “what is happening now.”
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Sat Jul 12, 2014 8:25 am Post

Very apt piece (with a nice translation - if a translation can judged from the outcome alone). Thanks PJS.
'Listen, some quiet night, when you've shirked your work that day. Do you hear
that distant, almost inaudible clicking sound? That's one of your
competitors, working away in the night in
Paris or London or Erie, PA.'