Monday, August 30, 2010

How Much Fact Do We Need in Our Fiction?

I drove to Upstate New York this past weekend and over the 7-hour drive I had ample time to listen to the radio. One of the recurrent discussions was the new Taylor Swift song and, in fact, I heard a brief interview with her about the inspiration for the piece.

She mentioned that while so many romances don't work and a lot of people may not have the exact models of a healthy relationship that they would like, many people--like her--are hopeless romantics and daydream about the rare exception.

It seemed, however, over the course of my drive that for every song about a cheating partner, there were several more about a fabulous love story--the hopeless romantics won out. Even in The Luxe, which I'll review tomorrow, despite all the scheming and betrayal, pressures and politics, true love seems to find a detour through all of that.

So as I drove out of the congestion of Washington, D.C., through the long, winding hills of rural Pennsylvania, and finally crossed over into the Empire State I got to wondering, in literature, what's the right balance between reality and "fantasy"? Do we want all make-believe for a beach read but something with more "meat on the bones" for every day? Does the idealistic relationship work better in first person because it's more voyeuristic? Does the "idealistic" relationship look different from a male protagonist point of view versus a female point of view and if so, how? And how much reality does there need to be for it to be believable and how much true fiction for it to be fun?

I don't have the answers but maybe you do...or at least some thoughts on the topic?

1 comment:

  1. I have definetly had some of these similiar thoughts to. Certainly movies and books where everything somehow ends up ok, usually meaning that the protagonist has found a loving relationship, are not a realistic representation of real life where most of the time complications and drama don't allow things to work out they way we want them to and our flaws end up dominating our decisions instead of our dreams. But for me I love the escape and althought I know that relationships are not always that perfect and much harder than that and don't always work out, I still love reading them. But although I love reading them, are they really healthy for me? Should I instead be reading something to help with self improvement or doing something that is a real social interaction helping me to develop real relationships instead of spending so much time reading about them?