On fiction.

Last week, I was having a conversation with a dear, dear friend of mine, and we got onto the topic of what types of books we like to read.  Non fiction or fiction.  I told her it depends on what mood I’m in, and on what I’m seeking.  But I love both.  Fiction gives me something simple to sink into when I want to get away fast.  I turn to non fiction when I’m needing intellectual stimulus.

She told me that it’s always non fiction for her, and that she hasn’t read fiction in ten years.  I was so shocked.  No fiction for ten years!  That seemed such a long time for a world that I take so much joy into revisiting time and time again.  But to each their own, and everyone has their individual preferences.  Reading is wonderful, and every genre is wonderful.

It got me to thinking, though, of what the purpose of fiction was, and why I value it so.  There must be an English class somewhere in the world that demands an answer, or perhaps a very long essay, to this question.

This past weekend, I rediscovered A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle.  From the start of the first sentence, I positively shivered in joy:  It was a dark and stormy night.   

I raced through the first 100 pages in one sitting before I had to tear myself away to rest from the intensity of her science fiction.

Fiction takes me away in a manner that no other genre does.  It is here that I find my Neverland.  Here, I fly.   I can explain it no other way.   And it is pure exhilaration.

In rereading A Wrinkle, I also rediscovered perhaps one of my favorite literary characters of all time.

Meet the 5 year old, Charles Wallace:

“Most peculiar moron I’ve ever met,” Calvin said.  “I just came to get away from my family.”
Charles Wallace nodded.  “What kind of family?”
“They all have runny noses.  I’m third from the top of eleven kids.  I’m a sport.”
At that Charlies Wallace grinned widely.  “So m’ I.”
“I don’t mean like in baseball,” Calvin said.
“Neither do I.”
“I mean like in biology,”  Calvin said suspiciously.
A change in gene,” Charles Wallace quoted, “resulting in the appearance in the offspring of a character which is not present in the parents but which is potentially transmissible to its offspring.”
“What gives around here?” Calvin asked.  “I was told you couldn’t talk.”
“Thinking I’m a moron gives people something to feel smug about,” Charles Wallace said.  “Why should I disillusion them?”

L’Engle, Madeleine. A Wrinkle In Time.  New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., 1976.  28.

Wrinkle1

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