Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Shiva Moon

The Rockrose Moon (A Serial Fiction) Part 51

Is it the job of a fiction writer, I wonder, to be kind? When one is describing development in the life of a character, one has to first describe where the character was before the pivotal event or set of events occurred.

I have always appreciated that through the vehicle of fiction one is able to tell or apprehend a more authentic truth because the constraints of daily social intercourse are removed.

This week I’ve been thinking about two of my favorite novels. The first is Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh and his description of his character Rex Mottram as a “tiny bit of a man pretending he was the whole”.

This line has stuck with me since I was a little girl listening to my aunt moon over Jeremy Irons while watching reruns of the BBC version of the book and my subsequent reading of the book borrowed from her library.

(Now Christian has wandered off with my copy.)

Rex was an inspiration in part for my character Duncan in the previous post.

None of the characters in the book are particularly likeable. They are more so at the beginning and Cordelia retains much of her appeal throughout the book. But the rest of the characters do change; there is development. In this case, in so many ways, a sad development but one none the less.

His characters were based on someone, or composites of people he knew. People we will only now remember through his beautiful clear words.

Why is it always okay I wonder to immortalize in fiction (a writer should be so lucky) a beautiful young woman with a drug problem as William Gaddis did in The Recognitions (The other of my favorite books) in his character Esmè based on the life of the real troubled young painter Sheri Martinelli?

Someone I know recently suggested that he felt that the only place you could find the authentic complexity of living breathing human beings was in memoir and I argued that the most skilled fiction writers like Waugh and Gaddis had much to say both about the nobility of human nature and the suffering that causes so many problems.

Ripples on the still waters of our lives that start out with so much hope and ambition and end so badly.


Blogger JohnOS said...

Brideshead is stuffed full of memorable phrases: that low door in the wall, et in arcadia ego, a twitch upon the thread, he's my friend and I was beastly to him, to know and love one other human being is the root of all wisdom...

3:22 PM  

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