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Fiction or non-fiction, What is the Reality?

Updated on January 10, 2012

It is said that fiction comes out of the imagination, or is made up, that it assumes reality. However, when I hear that word fiction, I feel the breadth and depth and the power of what it is and what it means, of how it effects the lives it reaches into. Fiction is about life. It is about who we are, about what we are and how we go about it.

On the other hand, non-fiction, said to be factual, true-life, is really about what we do, the daily things we engage in, being little more than the daily newspaper clippings, or radio and tv chatter, which I submit, has less to do with true life than the gossip your next door neighbor heartily engages in.

It is ironic fiction should be called fiction—in the literal sense. Something to do with imagination, untrue, assumed to be true. Fiction has nothing, if it does not have full and vibrant life. As it the case with all art, fiction gives us eyes with which to see our own world, it puts the blood and pulse into our lives.

Times a reader finishes a reading a book, having little sense or idea besides the words and the story, when suddenly the next day, or perhaps even weeks later, something he or she will see or hear, think or feel, the reading will come back to the reader, striking him or her with a golden arrow of insight as it leaps into the reader’s humanity.

Stephen Crane’s, THE OPEN BOAT, puts all at equal level when it comes to survival.

THE OXBOW INCIDENT shows what happens when mob rules.

Or Willa Cather shows intimately a way of life once lived in the US west.

A great example of a piece of non-fiction being passed off as true life, and not nearly what it is said to be, is the book, then movie, THE BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI.

It was packaged and sold as a true story. Well, the time and place was true, after that it is fabrication. It was written as entertainment and to build up, “our side”, a propping up, to make our side look good.

But then, that is just one example to make my point in that direction. However, in the other direction, I have recently read the non-fiction, THE BEST AND THE BRIGHTEST, by David Halberstam,

THE GREATER JOURNEY, by David McCullough,

as well as, Georgeanne Brennan’s, A PIG IN PROVENCE.

Each is outstanding, informative and beautifully written.

Then there is the instructional manual on baseball pitching, called, DELIVERY, that I wrote:

And here I am promoting it at a Little League fundraiser in Winthrop, MA, along with former major league player, David Valdez, all the way over on my right with the book in his hand. I am the guy with the baseball necktie on.

Where reading great fiction is concerned, not only do those readings sharpen stream of thought for the reader, while helping him or her more crisply and concisely speak, think also of the effect just those two things have on that reader's every day life. It helps the reader to live more harmoniously within his own world, his environment and himself.

Each piece of great literature is as much a masterpiece as is an equally rated piece sculpture, painting, photograph or symphony.

Fiction is every bit true to life as is a meal, wine or cheese. If fiction was not real, it would have no relevance in our lives. As I say, it is intimately about who and what we are. If that is not real, what is?

Finally, after all this said, maybe there should be a third category added into writing parlance:

1. Fiction

2. Non-fiction

3. Palaver

That might do it.


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