For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

Objects in Fiction

Elif Batuman in an essay on Orhan Pamuk's real-life museum “full of stuff that had ‘belonged’ to the protagonists of his last novel, The Museum of Innocence”:

Pamuk calls it a ‘tactical error’ for writers to show their characters’ faces, on book jackets or elsewhere. I wondered why it was OK to show all Füsun’s personal effects when it was not OK to show her person. It occurred to me that the novel, though fiction, isn’t uniformly fictional. Endings are fake, because nothing in real life ever ends; characters are composites, because real people are either too close to you or too far. But the furniture and clothes: that stuff must almost all be real. There’s no way Balzac invented all that furniture. All those soaring ambitions and human destinies are just a pretext for telling the truth about the sofas and the clocks.