“Imagine truth as a chain of great mountains, their tops way up in the clouds. Writers explore these truths, always looking out for new paths up these peaks.”
“So the stories are paths?” Pasquale asked.
“No,” Alvis said. “Stories are bulls. Writers come of age full of vigor, and they feel the need to drive the old stories from the herd. One bull rules the herd awhile but then loses his vigor and the young bulls take over.”
“Stories are bulls?”
“Nope.” Alvis Bender took a drink. “Stories are nations, empires. They can last as long as ancient Rome or as short as the Third Reich. Story-nations rise and decline. Governments change, trends rise, and they go on conquering their neighbors. Like the Roman Empire, the epic poem stretched for centuries, as far as the world. The novel rose with the British Empire, but wait… what is that rising in America? Film?”
Pasquale grinned. “And if I ask if stories are empires, you’ll say—”
“Stories are people. I’m a story, you’re a story… your father is a story. Our stories go in every direction, but sometimes, if we’re lucky, our stories join into one, and for a while, we’re less alone.”
—Jess Walter, Beautiful Ruins