November 05, 2004
NOVELIST ROGER SIMON RESPONDS TO JANE SMILEY'S SCREED on the idiocy of American voters:
The mind of a good fantasist must make those stories vivid. And to do that you have to live in those stories, believe your vision and live it like an actor. Contradictory ideas are to some extent not allowed because they would vitiate the drama, leaving only a lifeless essay.
That means the novelist (myself included) must be something of an hysteric when writing. You are inventing your own private reality. That is what Ms. Smiley has done in her article.
UPDATE: Speaking of fantasy, Smiley has her Civil War history backwards, too:
According to Smiley:
The worst civilian massacre in American history took place in Lawrence, Kan., in 1862—Quantrill's raid. The red forces, known then as the slave-power, pulled 265 unarmed men from their beds on a Sunday morning and slaughtered them in front of their wives and children.
Now, if history hasn't completely reversed itself recently, wasn't William Clarke Quantrill a Confederate raider?
According to PBS, the strongly pro-Union stronghold of Lawrence, Kansas, had 183 (again, social promotion does not help math skills) of their predominately Republican citizenry slaughtered by pro-slavery Democrats. These same Democrats, of course, went on to found the original Ku Klux Klan.
Of course, we are the party revelling in the "ignorance in America" so I guess she didn't think we'd notice her attempts to play fast and loose with the facts...
Truly an embarrassment for Smiley -- and for Slate.