There are several different categories of reader; one of these eschews fiction entirely, while the other reads things that are unworthy of being called Fiction. To both these cases, and the unconvinced readers who fall into no category, I attempt to give an apology for the style, for the essence of what fiction ought to be, and how it ought to be judged.
Having been homeschooled through all of high school, I was friends and acquaintances with many different kind of Christian. I discovered a long time ago, that there is a large category of Christian who spurns fiction, some brands only read non-fiction and the Bible, others read only the Bible. Oddly enough, the same type of person exists outside the fundamentalist Christian group. I was a gardener (something that I loved and hated) for a strange old liberal feminist woman in town. When she left town, I had worked for her for four years, and I helped her move. She somewhat superiorly informed me that she only read biographies. The other type of reader is the sort that reads a book for the same reason that they watch a pathetically bad TV show, or go see a movie they know is terrible: they are bored.
To both these types, first those who consider fiction to be ‘all lies’ whether Christian or Atheist, and the second who consider fiction to be a nearly valueless diversion, I hope to provide a case for reading fiction seriously. To make this case, I want to describe the best of what fiction can be: ‘The Right Story Told True’. There are two aspects to a fiction story, whether it is the right story or the wrong story, and whether it is told true or whether it is told false. Obviously there are four possible stories: The right story told true, the right story told false, the wrong story told true, and the wrong story told false.
The Right Story Told True is an archetype, something against which success is measured, not by its conformity to the goal, but by its nearness to it. Human endeavors are to be judged like horseshoes, the nearer the goal, the better.
The right story on the surface means that the story deals with the right things, those things that all humankind deals with: something that is what people care about. It extends all the way to being a story that calls to people, that shows something beautiful or at least true about the world and the people in it. For instance the right story about Batman is the one where great and heroic sacrifices are made for uncertain results like in ‘The Dark Knight’. The wrong story would be about how Batman stopped crime by buying out the crime bosses, and running the underworld himself.
The story also has to be told true. For instance, V for Vendetta is the right story (a story about courage in the face of systematic oppression, of an idea that is stronger than any man, that people should be held responsible etc.) However, and this is a very big however, the story is told falsely. The villains are certainly villainous, but they are the wrong villains. Wrong because every single tyrannical government that exterminated its own people has been atheistic and communist. This is a fact of modern history. But the facts and the truth is hard, and the lies look really good when the story is right. This extends to the more subtle implications of the plot and even to whether the characters act and think in ways that are true to their characters.
In conclusion, I hope to steer anyone who reads these reviews to those stories that are right and true, and in doing so, perhaps convince those categories of people who avoid or denigrate fiction that, although certainly some of it is garbage, that is an indictment of the author, not the art form. I believe that when reading a story that is right and told true, it is like listening to the loveliest song, and I want other to hear it as well.