Writings on Writing: November 2022
From the delightful Less Is Lost (a sequel to the equally delightful Less), by Andrew Sean Greer:
Our narrator, Freddy Pelu, is describing how Arthur Less has been wrong about many things on his cross-country trip. He notes that "If this trip had a mantra, it would be 'Wrong again.'" Then he details the many ways Less has been wrong and concludes:
"But above all else, wrong about people. No surprise, in fact: novelists, with their love of structure and language and symmetry in novels, are frequently mistaken about the people who inhabit the actual world, much as architects are about churches. What is acceptable as true in a novel--that the waitress, existing merely to drop soup on the protagonist, need only have a hairdo and a hand--is, in the real world, an unforgivable moral error. For while our middle-aged author would probably consider himself a Rosencrantz or Guildenstern, certainly never a protagonist, the truth of existence has not quite pierced his soul: That, in real life, there are no protagonists. Or, rather, the reverse: It's nothing but protagonists. It's protagonists all the way down."
Less Is Lost, p. 246