In defense of fiction

I overheard this conversation about reading fiction:

Woman: "Do you read fiction?"

Man: "No, why should I?"

Woman: "I guess that's right. As long as you're going to put that much effort into something, it might as well be true."

This pair has obviously never realized how much is "true" in good fiction, or thought-provoking at the very least. Perhaps if I had been equipped with the following exemplary fiction excerpts nicely typed out on a sheet of paper at the time I overheard this conversation, I might have tapped them on the shoulder and passed it over. Undoubtedly, they would have sunk deep into thought, realized the error of their ways, and headed straight to the fiction section of their local library or bookstore.

In case they're reading now...

From The Diary of a Country Priest by Georges Bernanos: “Somehow I can never quite believe that God will really employ me—to the utmost: make complete use of me as He does of others. Every day I become more aware of my ignorance in the most elementary details of everyday life, which everybody seems to know without having learnt them, by a sort of instinct.” 

From Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks: "Charlotte pulled back the door of the compartment and stepped out. Levade had told her one day that there was no such thing as a coherent human personality. When you are forty you have no cell in your body that you had at eighteen. It was the same, he said, with your character. Memory is the only thing that binds you to earlier selves; for the rest, you become an entirely different being every decade or so, sloughing off the old persona, renewing and moving on. You are not who you were, he told her, nor who you will be."

From Bel Canto by Ann Patchett: "What a blessing he [the priest] had received in his captivity. The mysteries of Christ's love had never been closer to him, not when he said the mass or received communion, not even on the day he took holy orders. He realized now he was only beginning to see the full extent to which it was his destiny to follow, to walk blindly into fates he could never understand. In fate there was reward, in turning over one's heart to God there was a magnificence that lay beyond description. At the moment one is sure that all is lost, look at what is gained!"

From The Dive from Clausen's Pier by Ann Packer: "The teacher was a small, plump Italian named Pedro Triolino, who wore a different-colored merino-wool mock turtleneck to each class, tucked into black jeans. In his accented English he told us again and again that inspiration was everywhere--in movies, through the viewfinders of microscopes and telescopes, in the daily lives of a hundred foreign cultures. He had us get large, hardbound books with unlined pages, and he told us to record our ideas in them--about color, sihouette, whatever. At first I felt frozen, thinking I had no ideas, but then a guy in class showed me several pages of fabric swatches he'd stapled into his book, and suddenly I got it. I taped in slips of paper from Chinese fortune cookies because I liked grayed pastels; I bought colored pencils and markers and experimented with unexpected combinations..."

From The Moviegoer by Walker Percy: "The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. This morning, for example, I felt as if I had come to myself on a strange island. And what does a castaway do? Why, he pokes around the neighborhood and he doesn't miss a trick. To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair."