Alex Brandon / AP

I Used to Write Novels. Then Trump Rendered Fiction Redundant.

After Donald Trump became president, Richard North Patterson ditched writing novels for political commentary. Trump himself, Patterson wrote recently, is a fiction writer run amok:

“The aim of the novelist is to enlist others in his fantasies, immersing them in an alternative reality so emotionally compelling that they willingly suspend disbelief,” Patterson argued. “Trump has dangerously conflated this sort of storytelling with real-life presidential leadership, casting himself in the role of the archetypal savior-hero, battling the forces of evil.”


When I saw the title of your recent piece, I wondered whether my mind had been hacked. This idea occurred to me some months ago, though I expressed it slightly differently. So, to reinforce your point and for your entertainment, I humbly present the attached poem, “Death of the Novelist.”

Nothing any writer
Of fiction might conjure
Can today compare—or even compete—
With reality.

The corporeal world
Transcends imagination.
This is no metaphor:
We all live in an apartment, beneath
The gilded penthouse of a bottle-blonde,
Boot-clad Imelda Marcos millipede,
A shoe dropped every news cycle
But never the waited-for other shoe
Of finality.

Who can evoke Dystopia
Darker than this,
More Atwoodian than Atwood,
More Orwellian than Orwell,
More Kafkaesque than Kafka?
No one can.

No one can weave cloth
More whole than that woven,
First with 140-character threads,
Now more luxuriously
With 280-count threads:

A death shroud
Of tweet sheets.

Joseph Frey
Chicago, Ill.


Readers Responded on Facebook and Twitter:

Margaret Brown wrote: This article nailed it. No dystopian novel or movie about the possible inadequacy of democracies to deal with a dangerous actor as president of the most powerful country in the world is now worthy of our attention, because the reality is here and now. The biggest danger he poses is that despite being a terrible businessperson and worse president, he is an undeniably brilliant promoter, especially when selling himself. P.T. Barnum and Timothy Ferriss are mere blips by comparison.


Bill Murrock wrote: If you think he messed up fiction, you should see what he’s done to satire…


Yvette Beltran-Southwell wrote: His most compelling impact is rendering The Onion unfunny.




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