Thursday, July 16, 2009
I was not a fan of Oprah but I am now. In her recent issue, July 2009, there are interviews of Jim Shepard, Toni Morrison and Michael Cunningham. Recently, in my writers group, we were discussing the role of loneliness in stories. We talked about how in real life we want to run from anything that whispers our imminent death. It’s the tangibles in life that we attend to and we delight in their distractions from the dark side. But Cunningham takes this notion to a greater level of clarity in the interview mentioned above. “We need, as readers, to feel matched at the very least in our knowledge of human life, and we know from experience how hard it can be simply to live, in the flesh, on the earth. Anyone who doesn’t know that probably doesn’t need to read novels at all.” I love his phrase “to feel matched.” Readers are looking for connections with writers who bring vivid life-like stories to our awareness about living, and we find rewards in writers who do not back down from the tough emotional issues of our lives. Toni Morrison addresses happy endings in novels and says they are not enough. What matters is that characters figure out something of significance to them. I’m hooked on this slick as Oprah carries a woman’s magazine into the 21 century.