by Steve Gajadhar
About a year ago I kicked mainstream fiction to the curb. Short stories, novels, I simply couldn’t bring myself to read another story based on The Relationship. Who cares? People break up, families don’t get along, and coming of age is rough. Yaddah yaddah yaddah. So I started reading more and more SF – still some of The Relationship, but at least there was some different scenery. It’s been a nice break, having no “kitchen sink” moments in my reading life, but I think I’m ready to give literary fiction another chance.
It wasn’t a particular work of fiction that made me reconsider. It was real life and the real lives around me. People break up, families don’t get along and coming of age is rough. Turns out that’s the way it is after all. Storytellers are just passing along the misery, delusions and selfishness that so many people piggyback around. Then I got to thinking. What does relationship mean anyways? According to the dictionary it can be a logical or natural association between two or more things, or a state of connectedness between people. Call me a pessimist, but I’m not noticing much of the latter, at least with positive emotions involved, and that’s a relationship of the former kind: all the troubled relationships in fiction (movies, you name it) reflect all the real life troubled relationships that surround us. Oscar Wilde said, “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” The key point in that view is that they imitate each other regardless of the frequency of imitation.
Maybe our writers should all start writing about something else? Maybe our storytellers can decrease the divorce rate, get kids of Ritalin and create a wonderful utopia where we all just get along? Okay, that’s not going to work and I’m not qualified or patient enough to figure out what’s wrong, right, or just okay, and I’m too happy to contribute to the already massive archive illustrating The Relationship and its deterioration. So I’ll just keep reading and rambling and hope for more happy middles instead of just happy endings.