The Fiction Writer's Bravery

A novel, in its truest form, is a questioning of what it means to be human, of what a life is. But what makes it different from, say, a work of philosophical inquiry is, among other things, the way it uses (or misuses, or differently uses) language and, second, the particular sense of discomfiture it can provide. Not that a novel needs to disturb or dismay or unsettle in order to mesmerize or provoke, but it does, or should, force us to reconsider, to rethink. The fiction writer’s bravery, then, is her dedication to never second-guessing the reader, even at the risk of her own book’s likability; the reader’s bravery is allowing himself to trust the writer, to surrender himself to the world she has created.