I'd ban coincidences, if I were a dictator of fiction. Well, perhaps not entirely. Coincidences would be permitted in the picaresque; that's where they belong. Go on, take them: Let the pilot whose parachute has failed to open land in a haystack, let the virtuous pauper with the gangrenous foot discover the buried treasure-it's all right, it doesn't really matter.
One way of legitimising coincidences, of course, is to call them ironies. That's what smart people do. Irony is, after all, the modern mode, a drinking companion for resonance and wit. Who could be against it? And yet, sometimes I wonder if the wittiest, most resonant isn't just a well-brushed, well-educated coincidence.
- Julian Barnes Flaubert's Parrot
I'm enamored with Barnes's intellectual game he calls a novel.
I just got in to work, wet and soggy from the New England rain, and just wanted to write this up quick. I couldn't stop thinking about Barnes playing with the concept of literature. This quote is a microcosm of the book so far. At first you think he's going to be serious about coincidences, but by the end, I don't know if he's still anti-coincidence or what. Maybe that's the point? I love the book so far anyway. It's a like a brainteaser.
When I get home tonight, I'm going to attempt to write about my perception of the parrot as writer metaphor that Barnes and Flaubert tackle. If they could do it, I should have no problem. Piece of cake.