All I Want From Fiction Is A Trip — Edna O’Brien

19Nov09

I adore elephants.  This one reminds me of the sort of trip I’d like to be on.

“All I want from fiction is a trip. And if I don’t get that trip, I don’t care whether it’s [from] a man or a woman, I have no time for it. I don’t want to read a work that tells me a little about the world around me today. I know about the world around me. The standard of newspapers and journalism is far higher than the standard of most published fiction. So, what’s left to write about? I think feeling and emotion and all those things which are put very high on a back shelf are essential for mankind.”

Edna O’Brien

I started writing fiction after reading Edna O’Brien’s The Country Girls Trilogy.  The novels made me realize I had stories of my own to tell and that one could write from the point of view of a child for an adult audience.  By studying her I learned about descriptive writing and I learned how to walk the line between the perceptions of a child narrator and those of the adult reader.  After devouring O’Brien’s novels, I searched for other books from the point of view of children: Anywhere But Here by Mona Simpson; What Maisie Knew by Henry James; Stop Time by Frank Conroy; This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff; Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson.  All were journeys through childhoods.  I wanted to take my characters on their own journey and so wrote my first novel, Bright Angel Time, using my own crazy childhood as the jumping off point for my imagination and my story, studying the techniques and styles of these authors I had come to love.  The trip always begins and ends with reading.

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2 Responses to “All I Want From Fiction Is A Trip — Edna O’Brien”

  1. Lloyd Jones’ “Mr. Pip”. Gorgeous, haunting, innocent, and an education.

    • 2 marthamcphee

      A trip, I gather, you recommend taking? Thanks for the lead, Charlotte.


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