All we are, all we can be, are the stories we tell," he says, and he is talking as if he is talking only to me. "Long after we are gone, our words will be all that is left, and who is to say what really happened or even what reality is? Our stories, our fiction, our words will be as close to truth as can be. And no one can take that away from you.
I think it is our job, as writers, to be epic. Epic and tiny at the same time. If you're going to be a fiction writer, why not take on something that means something. In doing this, you must understand that within that epic structure it is the tiny story that is possibly more important.
Great fiction has been written out of the very darkest circumstances of our narco violence, and nothing written in either fiction or nonfiction has penetrated that darkness so memorably - you can even say beautifully, a relentless riveting forensic dark beauty that some readers in fact find themselves unable to endure - as Roberto Bolaño's 2666. Especially in "The Part about the Crimes. " But here's the thing: nobody would call 2666 a "narco novel. "
I obviously read and adore traditional fiction. I teach traditional fiction, I also teach all kind of not-so-traditional fiction. And since I'm such a plot buff, and I'm really such a narrative buff, I can't seem to relinquish my - not just reliance - but excitement about those traditional techniques.