10 March 2011

politics and fiction

Reading through my notebook (yes, an Oscar Wilde-ish endeavour) I came across an entry from 2010 in which I wrote down a couple of paragraphs from The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest. After the post-bank-bailout megabonuses here in Ireland, and the election of a new government, I thought I'd post this short excerpt (in chapter 14) from the third novel in the Stieg Larsson trilogy. Seems like he could have been writing about the banks, instead of a fictional Swedish daily newspaper...

'What you don't understand is that our shareholders bought stock in the paper because they want to make money. That's called capitalism. If you arrange that they're going to lose money, then they won't want to be shareholders any longer.' [Sellberg, member of the paper's board of directors, at the newspaper's weekly budget committee meeting, responding to Erika Berger's proposal to cut bonuses, dividends and management salaries.]
'I'm not suggesting that they should lose money, though it might come to that. Ownership implies responsibility. As you yourself have pointed out, capitalism is what matters here. S.M.P.'s owners want to make a profit. But it's the market decides whether you make a profit or take a loss. By your reasoning, you want the rules of capitalism to apply solely to the employees of S.M.P., while you and the shareholders will be exempt.' [Berger, the new editor-in-chief]

I like a book (and better still, a trio of them) that asks questions and challenges the status quo, especially when it does it in a popular/commercial fiction format.

It brings to mind another quote in an old notebook (from 1993, yikes) – this one from The Fiction Writer's Handbook by Hallie Burnett (based on the notes of her husband Whit):
We must be convinced that bare facts frequently lie, and only by imaginative probing and sometimes remembering, can we show life as it is, truth as it must be, and the unarguable reality of our vision.