Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Legend of Runaway Characters

I wrote about the third volume of Paris Review interviews not too long ago. I just read this excerpt below from John Cheever. Even though my attempts at writing fiction have been limited, I've always felt that writers who speak about their characters in this way are full of it. I'm glad that Cheever agrees:
The legend that characters run away from their authors -- taking up drugs, having sex operations, and becoming president -- implies that the writer is a fool with no knowledge or mastery of his craft. This is absurd. Of course, any estimable exercise of the imagination draws upon such a complex richness of memory that it truly enjoys the expansiveness -- the surprising turns, the response to light and darkness -- of any living thing. But the idea of authors running around helplessly behind their cretinous inventions is contemptible.



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