Essay on Letters to a Young Novelist
by Mario Vargas Llosa
Student: Eric Kasum
Advisor: Rachel Pollack
Revised February 23, 2004 - Winter/Spring
"Fiction is a lie uncovering a deep truth ... Rebellion lies at the heart of every literary calling ... the desire to change reality, the questioning of real life, which is the secret raison d'ÃÂªtre of literature ... They don't imagine themselves as plotting secretly to dynamite the world ... The difficult and thrilling moment you decide whether you will go beyond amusing yourself ... leads you into servitude, into nothing less than slavery ... an all-encompassing, all-excluding occupation, an urgent priority ... A tapeworm ... Those who make this vocation their own don't write to live but live to write."
As I read Letters to a Young Novelist by candlelight - the power blacked out a little over an hour ago - it haunts me.
My mind is sick, my stomach queasy. I am horrified, thrashed by a whirlpool, a fish in a blender. How could he know? Vargas Llosa whispers in my ear. Not in English, but in a special language only we two can understand. A primal language of secrets.
The wind rustles the curtains at my window. The candle flickers. An unbearable truth wants to come inside. What's he saying? I try to listen. I am naked, trembling, a lonely tree in a field of snow. I hear him whisper, "You are not alone." Not alone? Is he insane? I have always been alone.
In my childhood fantasies, I was always a hero. I remember rescuing my Dad from a polar bear when I was about three years old. I was riding on my tricycle. He says it didn't really happen. What does he know? I was also Student Body President,