Novels, by contrast, are idiosyncratic, uneven, embarrassing, and quite frequently nausea-inducing — especially if you happen to have written one yourself. Within the confines of an essay or — even better! — an aphorism, you can be the writer you dream of being. No word out of place, no tell-tale weak spots (dialogue, the convincing representation of other people, plot), no absences, no lack. I think it’s the limits of the essay, and of the real, that truly attract fiction writers. In the confined space of an essay you have the possibility of being wise, of making your case, of appearing to see deeply into things — although the thing you’re generally looking into is the self.
But after you have raged at the impossible artificiality of storytelling, once you have shouted, with Kafka, “But then? No then”, well, maybe you will find yourself returning to the crossroads of “And then, and then”, if only to see what’s going on down there.