marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,


Ah, realism.  What an equivocal term.

There is a sense in which a story-teller who's throwing around dragons, and sorceresses, and magical talismans that may make a swordsman invincible, and enchanted embroidery, has taken realism by its scruffy neck and hurled it out the window.  (Taking potshots at it if it ever pokes its nose around here again.)

Then there's the sense in which local color is need to convince the reader that this location is like other locations they have known even if all the doors to it lead to widely varying locations, which you usually need.  And the sense in which your characterization has to convince your readers that is how someone to react to the doors that open in every location, and so both he and the doors are real.  Both of which are necessary.

Then there's the sense where people criticize plots they don't approve of for lack of dinginess.  Like complaining that The Incredibles was good as long as it kept Bob stuck in his job; as soon as he escaped and found accomplishment and fulfillment, obviously the story had fallen to pieces.  Or complaining that real life doesn't have happy endings -- arguable, though arguments can be offered against -- or that in real life, the boy doesn't get the girl -- which is not arguable, as there are plenty of weddings to attest.  The funny part here is even if you allowed their selective granting of which things that actually exist have happened in "real life," there is the little issue that we all get Real Life twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, with unsurprassable accuracy.  The only conceivable excuse for art is that it has something that Real Life doesn't have.
Tags: characterization, genre, lit crit, local color, realism

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