Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Art of Subtext

It may seem strange to say so, but the great fallacy of most written dialogue in fiction of our time is that all the characters are listening. But everyone knows we have become a nation of nonlisteners. What gives the writing of Eugene O'Neill, Tony Kushner, Lorrie Moore, Paula Fox, and William Gaddis its particular distinction is the notice it has taken of what people do not notice. In truly wonderful writing, the author pays close attention to inattentiveness, in all its forms.

In fiction, the forms of evasion are every bit as interesting, conversationally, as truth telling.

The Art of Subtext, Charles Baxter

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