David Shields recently said so and I disagreed in my comments on his How Literature Saved My Life. In this I will elaborate on how the Novel is my life and, if it is dead, then so am I. The question of how long I have wanted to be a writer is one that I can answer in myriad ways depending on when I want to start the story. Attention would be writers yourself out there, how you decide to begin may be your most important writing decision. For this piece I will begin in my early twenties when as a philosophy major in college I kept as secret to myself the fact that growing up to be a philosophy professor was only my cover story. My true identity was that of Author, Writer, Novelist; the exact formulation has varied but with three novels recently well-reviewed on Kirkus I will go with Novelist for now. So it was as an undercover Novelist that I shifted gears to study American history in graduate school (for a Novelist should know the past of the culture he is advancing). It was as an undercover Novelist that I shifted gears in a nine-speed transmission behind the steering wheel of an 18-wheeler (for a Novelist should know the present reality of other people in the culture he is advancing; you may apply this same reasoning to my lives as a security guard, bartender, nurse, engineer, etc., see Facebook or LinkedIn if you want a more complete list.) It was as an undercover Novelist I worked all these jobs as merely a part of my real job, read ten thousand books merely as background, and wrote five novels and sundry other works as a self-appointed apprenticeship before beginning to publish. If the Novel is dead, if the “rich language and storytelling” of The Canterbury Tales in Neverland, if the “testament to his writing skills” in The Time Traveler’s Fool, if the “vibrant ambitious novel” of The Charging Bull of Terry County are dead, then I choose to go on living as a literary spectre.
I wanted to write a classic regular folks would actually read. I wanted to write an adventure academics would find resonant with meaning. You tell me how well I did.