Richard Bausch on sophisticated fiction

Sunday, August 17, 2014

In today's Printers Row Journal, Kevin Nance interviews Richard Bausch about his new novel, Before, During, After. Complexity, Bausch suggests, separates serious fiction from other forms of entertainment. And I think, yes. Complexity. That's the word.

Q: The other intersection between public and private history in “Before, During, After” is indicated in the title. There’s a way in which these great calamities that happen — in my parents’ generation it was the Kennedy assassination, in my own generation it was 9/11 — seem like points of demarcation, watershed moments that define “before” and “after.”    

A: Yes, and it has to do with the discovery of complexity and the fact that there’s evil in the world — things that no amount of study or work or will or effort can change one bit, and we just have to somehow live with it. I think that’s what separates serious, sophisticated fiction from more trivial kinds of entertainment — although it all had better entertain or it’s a failure, no matter what its intent. 
     It’s all honorable and good, I should say; there’s no such thing as fiction writing that’s immoral — I don’t believe that at all. If it diverts and tells a story that involves the reader, it’s a good thing. If it’s boring, that’s different, but that’s another kettle of fish that has nothing to do with what the activity really is. I mean, Stephen King, who’s begun to get some cachet as the excellent storyteller that he is, used to be dismissed out of hand as some sort of hack. But if you read the guy, he can write like hell. There’s an aspect of what he does that could be defined as genre writing, but even that shows real thought and real intention, and people are starting to notice that.


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