Chalk Dust & Rainfall

The novel form, capacious and elastic as it is, nevertheless requires that ideas and emotions—all abstractions, really—be pressed and transformed, passed through the fine sieve of the material world and made manifest in action, conversation, and concrete detail. Fiction is created out of T-shirts and tomato plants, oven fries, chalk dust and rainfall, out of snarky exchanges and subtle glances. Constructing a world out of these apparently random bits—”the nearest thing to life,” as George Eliot put it—is a matter of meticulous imagining and careful craft.

Claire Messud, “The Dancer & the Dance,” New York Review of Books, 8 December 2016

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