Recently, I asked a group of writers, "Can fiction truly change a persons life?"
I had been thinking about the written word, the power of thought, and how we've shared it over time. I suppose the fact that I'm diving back into New Messenger Literature in English again (a happy anthology that begins with Caedmon and ends with the the 1960's (Alice Walker and the gang) has got me thinking. It's the sort of tomb that shows up in University bookstores and is used as a doorstop by English professors, but I like it.
And when I wander down it's pages, I'm reminded that fiction has always been an instrument for which thinkers and lovers have laid out their ideas for the world to see. Politics and religion, science and philosophy, the nature of God and humans all debated in the pages of those who brought the word to print.
From Chaucer's nearly endless and unique poetry, to Alice Walker's stripped bare first person narrative (if you write in first person POV you must study Walker's steady hand), From Barrett Browning's naked love, to Robert Lowell's stark testimonies of the American Civil War - it is our stories that change the world.
One life at a time.
I was at the book store yesterday. I pursued the fiction shelves (there were several), looking for the book that would change my mind, my feelings, my world.
I bought four books yesterday. None of them fiction.
My examination of the offerings on those wooden shelves made me feel - hmmm. Vaguely bored.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for entertainment. I think it's important and I can think of several times in just the past month when I've sought out the fun and ease of something entertaining. A fluffy movie, a quick read book. Ahh, the oasis of it.
But, I've found a hole in the shelves. The books that resonate a measure of movement, of pushing forward, of calling the masses to look up, look over, look beyond.
They are out there.
My point is, they are getting more difficult to find.
I recently heard that there are somewhere in the vicinity of 200, 000 books published each year. I'm thinking those are North American stats. And they cover the gamut of subjects, uses, genres and mediums. Still, that's a lot of books.
So, where are the heroes of fiction?
I'm asking a real question.
I'm asking you.
Where have you found your heroes of fiction? Which books have changed your mind, made you turn around, made you look up, made you pray, made you hurt?
Made you believe?
I'm waiting with open mind and heart to hear from you.