I was asked to take part in a project about “narrative generosity” over at The Town Crier, the online edition of The Puritan literary magazine. Honestly, I was thrilled because the topic gave me the opportunity to discuss a subject that’s been rolling around in my head for quite some time: immersion as empathy. Here’s a snippet:
IMMERSION AS EMPATHY:
NARRATORS UNLIKE OURSELVES HAVE MUCH TO TEACH US
I am puzzled by the Women’s Fiction section of the bookstore. Perhaps you’ve never noticed that this common genre of literature often warrants its own designated shelves, its own designating sign—not in every shop, I’ll grant, but in enough of them to be utterly unremarkable. But I notice, and so let me describe the common features.
Women’s Fiction is not romance, which has a section of its own. In Women’s Fiction, you’ll find drama. You’ll find all the many X’s Wives and the Y’s Daughters book titles, as well as more soft-focus stock art than you can shake a stick at. You’ll find some happy endings and characters obsessed with shoes, certainly, but also a ton of sharp edges, blades of injustice, abuse, divorce, grief, and mental health. And of course, the vast majority of these books are written by women and feature female narrators. They are books of the she/her/hers.
Click over to The Town Crier to read the whole piece now.