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Holding Multiples in My Head

October 7, 2014

Robin Black’s collection of short stories, If I loved you, I would tell you this, was released in March 2010 and earned critical praise and acclaim. It was a finalist for the Frank O’Connor Short Story International Award. And yet Black’s success was, for her, overshadowed by the anxiety that she hadn’t published a novel.

The Novel is Dead, Long Live the Novel

Nevertheless, we are irked—irked because of the predictability of these reports, irked because they are written by people who know (or claim to know) what literature can do, who claim to be experts on the subject of Why People Read and Write Books, and yet who, somehow and repeatedly, seem to completely miss the point, who don’t understand why someone might go to nonfiction for one thing, to fiction for another. The problem is not that the different genres might do different things, serve different needs, have different goals, provoke different reactions in their readers; the problem is that suggesting fiction should be more like nonfiction—needs to be more like nonfiction—diminishes both genres, making our literary world a lesser place.