28 February 2009

Not here to make friends

“I don’t write books for people to be friends with the characters,” [Zoe] Heller said as she tucked into a spartan brunch of a boiled egg and seven-grain toast. “If you want to find friends, go to a cocktail party.”

She is tall, in tight gray jeans, her hair tied back in a ponytail, with big hoop earrings that reach almost to her prominent chin. “The point of fiction is not to offer up moral avatars,” she added, “but to engage with people whose politics or points of view are unpleasant or contradictory.”

--from the NY Times profile of Zoe Heller, author of WHAT WAS SHE THINKING? NOTES FROM A SCANDAL among others. I don't think it's necessarily so bad to sympathize with fictional characters, but I can see how, in terms of Heller's work, the way the people she writes about are presented, that would be an incredibly annoying criticism to make.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

On the other hand, readers are less likely to want to spend time with people (characters) they dislike. If the readers can't stand the characters, they're just that much more likely to put the book down and not pick it back up.

Which isn't to say that all Art has to be Pleasant: but if you want it to be Popular as well, it's something to consider.