Earlier today I sat on a rowing machine at the gym and watched with mounting amazement as the plasma TV screens above my head flashed the latest bulletins about Mark Foley and the shootings in Pennsylvania. The thought occurred to me that these must be hard times for the aspiring novelist, what with life constantly upping the ante on imagination, and no sooner did that thought flash through my mind than I found myself recalling these words of advice to the writer of fiction:
The novelist with Christian concerns will find in modern life distortions which are repugnant to him, and his problem will be to make them appear as distortions to an audience which is used to seeing them as natural; and he may be forced to take ever more violent means to get his vision across to this hostile audience. When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do, you can relax a little and use more normal ways of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock–to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the blind you draw large and startling figures.
Flannery O’Connor said that–forty-nine years ago. Plus