Monday, March 19, 2012

On Fact and Fiction

"One of my own writing teachers, Richard Price, used to caution us students not to be too attached to facts. 'God’s a second-rate fiction writuh,' he’d say dismissively in thick Bronx-ese."

"I think he’s right. Some things are too perfect to be believable:
When I lived in New York I was dating a guy whose brother was a resident at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens. One night we smuggled him out—apparently he didn’t have off-site privileges—and took him for Chinese food. When the fortune cookies came, Robbie and I read ours. But when Brian broke open his own fortune cookie, there was nothing for him to read; the paper inside it was blank. I remember wanting to cry and not crying. I also remembered knowing that a scene like that, occurring in a novel or a short story, would seem heavy-handed, lugubriously symbolic. "

Jo Page, who speaks tomorrow at UAlbany and the Albany Public Library, published a meditation on what stories are and how they are told in her "Reckonings" column in last week's issue of Metroland.