THE SOURCE: “Head Is as Good as Feet” by Mark Lawson, in The Guardian, Feb. 9, 2007.
“Write what you know.” It’s the gospel preached in today’s many fiction-writing workshops. The reading public’s appetite for nonfiction—biography, memoir, histories of everything—also encourages novelists to rely on factual material. Imagination, once free to roam distant continents, is relegated to conjuring up the interior life of the odd character. Obviously made-up stories risk consignment to “slightly disreputable bookshops, or academic categories called ‘fantasy’ or ‘magic realism,’” writes Guardian commentator Mark Lawson.
Occasionally, however, a book tacks against...