This week on Booking Through Thursday:
The news has been horrifying and addictive this week, with catastrophe piled on catastrophe, to a degree that–if I had read this in a book or seen it in a movie–I’d be protesting that it was just too unlikely, too farfetched.
But, topics for novels get ripped from the headlines all the time. Or real-life events remind you of fiction (whether “believable” or not) that you’ve read but never expected to see. Or real life comes up with an event so unbelievable that it stretches you sense of reality.
Hmm … I can’t quite come up with an outright question to ask, but thinking about the theory of fiction and how it can affect and be affected by real world events can act as a buffer between the horrific events on the news and having to actually face that horror. So … what happens when the line between fiction and reality becomes all-too slim? Discuss!
This week has indeed been horrific, and while the media has a tendency to over-egg things a little (and who else this week, in this age of 24-hour news, Twitter and other social media, has wished that there could be a blanket ban on "more news" for a while?), there is no doubt that Japan has suffered enormously this week. It may be a very rich nation, well-prepared for these sorts of things (particularly earthquakes, which are so common as to barely merit a mention), but that doesn't lessen the tragedy for any one family mourning a loved one.
As I said on Tuesday, to be reading a book based in 1799 Japan was somewhat surreal, particularly given the minor earthquake featured in the book. It did also bring home to me that these are not just statistics ("The death of one is a tragedy, the death of a million is a statistic" – although thankfully the death toll is nowhere near a million in Japan) but a proud and dignified nation's worth of human beings struggling with the Earth's anger.
On a lighter and not quite book-related note: fiction preceded fact in the 2008 USA presidential election when The West Wing TV series (one of my absolute favourites) chronicled the rise to power of a young, relatively unknown, non-White Congressional newcomer with a stunningly stylish wife and two young children. Sound familiar? It seems that the character of Matt Santos was based on Barack Obama, but the show's fans watched in amazement as life proceeded to imitate art.
I have yet to be reminded of a book by real life, but I'm sure that it will happen at some point!