Sunday 9 April 2017

The Stuff of Fiction

...the fascination of a character encountered in a book. He regretted the questions he had not asked, but had respected her preoccupations as belonging to a quasi-fictional 'Vicky Gardner', who, in the fullness of time, would be explained to him. This, he was forced to conclude, was the extent of his attraction to her. Nothing could be less sensual, less sexual. He was interested only in the unfolding of the story...
Strangers, Ch. 10

Sturgis's story, as I've noted earlier, links with Mrs May's in Visitors, especially in this passage:
...she realised that this journey might have to be repeated, and she could not repress a very slight feeling of interest. This was surely the stuff of fiction? A strong plot, unusual characters, a threatened outcome: who could ask for worthier diversion?
Visitors, Ch. 4

Such passages carry risks. We're in a hall of mirrors, something a little close to the madness of, say, James's Sacred Fount, in which the narrator doesn't just observe the other characters, 'as if I were trapping a bird or stalking a fawn' (Ch. 8), but seems to construct them, so that the reader has no chance of knowing what's 'real', nor who may be trusted.

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