Perhaps the approaching elections prompted me to write about lies and liars. Nevertheless, I will attempt to avoid politics.
My first nine years, I was raised mostly by my grandmother. She was an artist, a dabbler in poetry, a trained landscape painter, and a master storyteller. I could write volumes about her. But here I’ll just tackle one of her recurring themes.
Lies, she believed, were the worst of crimes, and liars the worst of people.
Over lots of years, I have come to agree wholeheartedly.
I could give a sound argument for why lies are often more despicable than, say, murder. But for now I’d rather comment upon why I so detest lies.
I detest lies because too often I believe them, which leads me to act upon erroneous premises, which in turn gets me into trouble. And on some days I feel as if all my energy goes to guarding against lies such as: ads with the pros in big letters (or big, seductive imagery) and the cons (if some agency forces the advertiser to confess them) in print for which I need a magnifying glass; authorities on radio passionately arguing positions with no concern about the truth or anything except the agenda that pays their salaries; and people making promises they don’t have any intention of fulfilling unless doing so happens to be convenient.
And then comes the first presidential debate.
Like many readers, I turn to novels for escape. But the escape I hope to find isn’t from responsibilities or problems. I go to novels to escape from the omnipresent b.s. So I expect that authors will use their craft not only to entertain but also to present a world that is essentially true. I don’t insist upon realism. A talking duck will please me if I’m convinced it’s a duck, or a human in disguise, and it offers at least a mild dose of duck-like, or human, insight. They don’t have to believe like me, only to write stuff that feels honestly presented, rather than served up because they think it’s what story-lovers want to read.
If I want to subject myself to self-serving b.s., I’ll set aside novels and read about politics.