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I enjoy learning about history from reading fiction. I find it far more interesting and less likely to be bloated with the boring parts of history—politics and war—and more focused on people and how political situations and cultural changes directly affect them. I like historical fiction and lately seem to be particularly drawn to novels that feature real people. I’m currently reading Beautiful Fools: The Last Affair of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald by R. Clifton Spargo.
I’m someone who believes that fiction can lead a person to Truth more than any other medium. Case in point: Several years ago Michael Cunningham, the author of The Hours and several other beautiful, moody novels, was in Tulsa. I had read The Hours twice and discussed it with my book group. I had also seen the movie version. The character of Laura Brown haunted me.
What makes The Great Gatsby such an enduring work of literature? It was not, after all, a bestseller when it was published, yet it is still in print 90 years after its original publication. It has sold millions of copies, and is taught in high schools and universities as an American classic. The novel holds up well to re-reading, each time revealing more depth and richness than the time before.
There are all kinds of reasons why people read, all of which are equally valid and important. Some read for escape and entertainment. Others want to experience historic, futuristic, or fantasy settings and characters. A lot of us read for the sheer appreciation of language and story as art. Still others want relatable characters that are so well formed they seem like real people.
…And now what have we here? Cadres of discerning readers, mostly male, incisive in their book sale crate digging, adherents supplicating at the altar of postmodern sprawl, have trained their eye on a forming planet still in its infancy within our authorial galaxy of ambitious doortstop novels. The planet’s name? Sergio de la Pava.