INTERVIEWER: I was reading the confessions of a novelist on writing novels: “If you want to be true to reality, start lying about it.” What do you think?
JOHN CHEEVER: Rubbish. For one thing the words “truth” and “reality” have no meaning at all unless they are fixed in a comprehensible frame of reference. There are no stubborn truths. As for lying, it seems to me that falsehood is a critical element in fiction. Part of the thrill of being told a story is the chance of being hoodwinked or taken. Nabokov is a master at this. The telling of lies is a sort of sleight of hand that displays our deepest feelings about life.
Very wise – all of it.
Greatly indebted to you for introducing me to this marvelous series of interviews. All writers, it seems, are different. And all views are valid. This is what I believe. Still, I’ve always been fascinated to find that some of the very best writers hate each other and think the other is producing rubbish.
Isn’t it odd – and delicious – that we love to be lied to in music, on film, and on the written page, but not in real life?
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