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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"A novel is a symphony"

The best novels are not autobiography. They're more analogous to work of art like a symphony, or a thick collection of poems, or a group of twenty-five or thirty paintings. Nobody expects a symphony to be anything but what it is: an imaginative work made of rhythm and tones. A novel is much closer to that than people realize. It is strange to me when people want me to be the protagonist of my books, want the events and the novel to be true in a physical, literal way. This approach misses the point. A novel is a symphony. The author is the composer and the reader is the conductor. And the imagination --- of both the composer and the conductor --- is the symphony orchestra.
-- David James Duncan*, quoted in  Conversations With American Writers: The Doubt, the Faith, the In-Between by Dale Brown.

*Duncan is the author of many books, including The River Why and Brothers K.

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