Our Need for Authenticity

Today’s fiction comes to us in extremes.

Fiction either talks pop to us by stripping the story to the lowest common standard, making the reader feel cheap, or fiction piles up language so esoteric that only the author knows what it means, making the reader feel unneeded.

It’s as if our choice as readers is one between fast food and haute cuisine. There is nothing wrong with either choice, of course. The problem comes when there is nothing in between: the extremes of both become pronounced.

High French cuisine is a fine thing, to be sure. We may wish at times that the menu used a vocabulary we understood better. We may wonder whether the arrangement on our plate was constructed with us in mind or with the satisfaction of the chef’s own aesthetic in mind. We may scoff at the ridiculous price of the food and ask ourselves whether the place is taking us for a fool.

In the same way, fast food is convenient, affordable and filling. It gratifies us so successfully with sugar, salt and fat that we don’t mind its hasty preparation, its heavy reliance on junk ingredients, and its obvious interest in hooking us as habitual customers.  And yet 365 fast food dinners no matter how practical and available can take the place of a single, humble Thanksgiving meal.

And so we fast.

We may not think so, but we do. Our souls testify to it. we go without fine food because it is too rich, and we gorge ourselves on junk food even though it doesn’t reach our hunger deep enough for any lasting satisfaction.

Over time, this creates a tremendous appetite in us. It creates a craving for home-cooked food. And we don’t recognize just how hungry we are until we sit down at the Thanksgiving feast after a long year.

At the feast, it is possible to reach our deep hunger as we feed our appetite. We know the feast is real food that is prepared with love for us and not for the preparer’s profit.

This feast is to our need for nourishment what New Q literature is to our need for meaning.

New Q literature is concerned with meaning before profit, but New Q literature is not so art-minded that it forgets the reader. New Q knows what is important.

What is important is the story and the role the story has in the life of the reader — not the role that the story has in the life of art.

New Quoin literature is readable and substantial.

New Q is the new middle in art — the feast between the extremes.

 

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