Fiction relies on a baffling alchemy. At some point in the narrative, and with the best of books from the very beginning, a story the author cheerfully, even formally, concedes is invented seems actually to have happened. Through the aegis of our eagerness to be fooled, confabulated characters walk about in our heads with the authority of our own friends and relatives. It’s a wonderful and mysterious process, one I don’t pretend to understand.
Shriver goes on to say that “sometimes it doesn’t work” but that isn’t what interests me. I just loved how she expressed the role that fictional characters can take on in our lives: “confabulated characters walk about in our heads with the authority of our own friends and relatives.” That is how I feel all the time about my favorite characters. It’s my favorite part of reading fiction.