I have not always be fair to him, and yet I depend on him more than I admit to myself… So, today, Julian holds the pen.
For us, creatures of a lower order, not free, not slaves, but prisoners all the same, facing our maker is the ultimate test. This is your space, yours, that is the author’s, not mine. I don’t belong here, and I am not sure I belong in your writing either: I feel like a passenger, stranded in the wrong teleport, perhaps in a time wrap.
You have borrowed from my (real) life, as fiction always steals from someone’s realities, or dreams. You, writers, have always done this. D’Artagnan was really a captain of the royal Mousquetaires, the élite body guard of the King of France, before Alexandre Dumas (père) span his web of intrigues. And somewhere in 1913, the young Marcel considered his status in life, before Proust drowned him in Lost Time.
You have painted me as a selfish, idiotic hedonist, who depends on his women, but do not respect them. This hurt me deeply, for it is not the person I am. I may lack courage, and do rely on the people I care for for support and patience. Selfish, egotistic, I am not: only your pen made me that. But your readers, who cannot know me, only know that Julian from your words, those slippery sentences that are as many distortions of my life.
Sadly, you will not redeem yourself, authors rarely do. Proust made a hopeless brat of Marcel, and sacrificed much of what that young man had to offer, in order to achieve fame and literary respect for himself. Little did it matter to him that, in so doing, he was destroying the idea itself of the introspective novel. I give you this: you are no Proust, but all the same you don’t strive to be published!
Enough said about myself. What about your writing? Of the young Proust of Jean Santeuil, Pierre Bergounioux (In D’après Proust, NRF March 2013) writes: “Besides being too young, Proust stays on the surface, describes, as before him, thoughts, gestures, feelings known, uncontroversial, when everything has changed, everywhere.” I won’t accuse you of the same weakness, you try to be current, recognising the mess the world is in, all those missiles, the fear, the surveillance, the arbitrary disguised as the norm, the lies. I don’t disagree with you on any of this reality. However you must ask yourself: aren’t you at risk of losing your readers in the labyrinth of time, all this meandering of your characters, back and forth, not only across their memories, but also retracing steps they may never have followed?
I give you credit for not totally confounding Julian, the “real” human being, and your character. Beyond the story – or is it the stories? – is the person whose memories provide the live substance of what, otherwise, would be a confusing ghost tale. But you know the difference. So, I may dislike the Julian of the novel, but you never claim he is the only one.