Ordinary Lives

I wanted to make note of two things I heard on the radio this afternoon. The first was an obituary of John Updike, on All Things Considered, that included Updike’s observation that “the big problem for a fiction writer is… how do you deal with ordinary life, that is not extraordinary, that does not involve heroism, that does not involve crisis.” The show then replayed Updike’s 2005 This I Believe essay, in which he argues that the difference between fiction and factual reporting “is one of precision. Oddly enough, the story or poem brings us closer to the actual texture and intricacy of experience.”

Then, on The Treatment (a show about movies out of KCRW in California), this line from an interview with Edward Zwick, director of the film Defiance: “You find your way to the epic through the specific.”

Both ideas worth thinking about as we go about our business of describing the world.