Fiction involves trace elements of magic; it works for reasons we can explain and also for reasons we can’t. If novels or short-story collections could be weighed strictly in terms of their components (fully developed characters, check; original voice, check; solidly crafted structure, check; serious theme, check) they might satisfy, but they would fail to enchant. A great work of fiction involves a certain frisson that occurs when its various components cohere and then ignite.
Read more of Michael Cunningham’s letter to the New Yorker here.
I like the idea that fiction has trace elements of magic. I experience this when I read a really good story that captivates me to the point that I don’t want to put it down. Either that, or I purposely slow down my reading so I can savor every word.
Do you like what Michael Cunningham says about writing fiction? Why do some novels satisfy and others fail to enchant? What novels have you read that enchanted you?
The Secret Sense of Wildflower “…astute observations and wonderfully turned phrases, with nary a cliche to be found. She could be an adolescent Scout Finch…A quietly powerful story, at times harrowing but ultimately a joy to read.” – Kirkus Reviews (starred review) To read the entire Kirkus review go here.
P.S. I am an ex-shrink who writes novels. Check out my books here.