Notecard: Unsustainable judgments

One thing I picked up while writing my book on the Russian short story [A Swim in a Pond in the Rain] was that maybe the most thrilling ride of all leaves the reader altered at the end but not quite able to say why. That’s the best. You’re sort of leading the reader up a path, and she can’t help but follow, and at the beginning of the trip she is making some judgments about the characters and the world of the story (as are you, as a writer) but then, as the two of you approach the top of the hill, those easy judgements, challenged by the details of the story, start to become unsustainable, and fall away.

I always like it when I get into a place during the writing of a story such that I finish it and have no idea what it means. That’s a thrill. That’s an example of what I mean when I say that we can write a better self into existence. Whatever that story is “saying,” it’s smarter than this guy talking to you right now—it has considered more things, is more comfortable with ambiguity, is willing to look in more unusual places for truth, and so on.

- from You Can Go Into a Crazy Place in Search of Truth, an interview with George Saunders, via Popula

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