Friday, April 15, 2022

When More is Better

While visiting my 13-year-old granddaughter yesterday, I picked up her copy of James Frey’s How to Write a Damn Good Novel and read the following:

“Fictional characters - homo fictus - are not identical to flesh-and-blood human beings – homo sapiens… (because) Readers demand that homo fictus be more handsome or ugly, ruthless or noble, vengeful or forgiving, brave or cowardly, and so on, than real people are…Homo fictus has more of everything.” ….”

This is certainly true of the last novel I read for my reading group, a book called Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen, which includes having more words in this nearly 600-page book.

All five of Franzen’s main characters are members of the Hildebrandt family - the most dysfunctional family I’ve ever read about, and each is with dealing his or her own personal demons, which include everything from drugs, to infidelity, war, and madness. Moreover, each is dealing with their demon without intervention, aid, or compassion from any other member of the family.

By the time I finished reading this book, on the morning of our group discussion, I was feeling dysfunctional and ready to scream, especially after learning that Franzen was writing two more novels involving these same characters. Will I read them? Probably! Because like Franzen's characters (and Frey’s frictus’ readers), I’m a glutton for more, more, more!   


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