Thursday May 26th, 2011

The Impossibility of Absolute Truth

Later today, I’m going to post a belated review of Jessica Francis Kane’s The Report, a novel that’s both quiet and forceful. Kane has a new piece up at The Morning News that could be described the same way. She recounts a recent visit to London, and if you’re like me, her introduction will be more than enough to draw you into the rest of her discussion about history and its relationship with fiction:

The man walked with a limp and a cane and couldn’t stand quite straight. He made his way slowly, deliberately to the front row of the auditorium in the London Transport Museum, a custom-made fluorescent yellow vest over his dark blazer.

Printed on the vest were various facts and figures of the Bethnal Green Tube station disaster: 173 people killed on the stairs the night of March 3, 1943; death in all cases by asphyxiation, there were no bombs; largest civilian accident of WWII.

He’d come to hear me speak on the topic, the subject of my first novel. He sat down and looked up at me on the stage. To say his expression was skeptical would be an understatement. I am a relatively young American novelist. He is Alf Morris, one of the accident’s oldest survivors.