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The Short Form

The Internal World of Books

Salman Rushie on the internal world of fiction, in an interview with Powell Books

One of the ideas that I really enjoyed was that in what I was imagining as the world of this book as distinct from the real world, it would be right that fictional characters from other books should have the same status of reality as characters from my book, right? Whereas, let's say, the authors of those books clearly could not be in my book because they didn't exist in the fictional world. So that Zuckerman was real and Philip Roth didn't exist. And Humboldt was real and Bellow didn't exist. The internal world of books, the other fictional universes, are places you can get to from my fictional universe, but you can't get to the real world from there. Sal Paradise is real and Jack Kerouac is not.