It’s non-negotiable

“It seems like one of the things really great fiction-writers do—from Carver to Chekhov to Flannery O’Connor, or like the Tolstoy of ‘The Death of Ivan Ilych’ or the Pynchon of ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’—is ‘give’ the reader something. The reader walks away from the real art heavier than she came into it. Fuller. All the attention and engagement and work you need to get from the reader can’t be for your benefit; it’s got to be for hers. What’s poisonous about the cultural environment today is that it makes this so scary to try to carry out. Really good work probably comes out of a willingness to disclose yourself, open yourself up in spiritual and emotional ways that risk making you really feel something. To be willing to sort of die in order to move the reader, somehow.” — David Foster Wallace (interview with Larry McCaffery in The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Summer 1993, Vol. 13.2)

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