Well, let me offer two lessons that come readily to mind from the fiction that has shaped my life more significantly than any college curriculum.

1) Whenever you think of criticizing anyone, just remember that a sense of the fundamental decencies is handed out unequally at birth. Therefore reserve judgment. — The Great Gatsby

2) Prince Andrew, shot from his horse in Tolstoy’s War and Peace, looks at the sky as if seeing it for the first tine. Years later, the scene comes back to me without effort. When I read the novel, I had been in the fast lane for several years and realized that like Prince Andrew I had never slowed down enough to look at the natural world. The novel helped me change.

3) And finally, though I promised only two examples, there is this unforgettable perk of fiction — sex. Thank you, John Updike. Thank you, Erica Jong. Thank you, Ralph Ellison. Thank you, novelists all.

And thank you, Carol, for another delightful read.

Fiction & cultural commentary with a personal twist — by a writer from the Deep South with roots in print & broadcast media.

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