Stranger than fiction

Typical of me to see a film long after it showed at the cinema. I used to see two or three films a week, but since parenthood hit I generally have to catch films on the telly or DVD.

Middle Sis just brought down ‘Stranger Than Fiction’ a quiet film, funny in places, about a man who hears the narration of his own life as he walks around – it transpires he is a character in a novelist’s book and she intends to kill him off. Death again – a theme which rears its head frequently  –  the man is going to die, whether the novelist writes it or not, but if she writes it he will know it’s coming soon. The point is we all know it’s coming, but when and how is a different matter. If we are told ‘how and when’ we have to deal with it in a different way. A lovely film, which gave a jolt near the end, even though I knew the jolt was coming.

Death has had me thinking in the last week or so – my school reunion will be a pupil short – Fiona W died in our 5th year and a couple of teachers are no longer with us. Meanwhile down the road a good friend is watching her mother decide whether it is time to go or not (she changes her plan from day to day). Friend Al had some old slides transfered to CD – the photos show her mother in the last few months before she died way back in the 1970s, when Al was only eleven years old. It seems to help us all to talk about it, quietly, secretly, to each other, orphan to orphan. It’s not such a dirty topic after all.

Does a novelist have a resonsibility to her characters? Is death less painful when the characters are fictional? Perhaps when I think of my mother’s death I fictionalise it. Max Khandola (photographer) recorded his father’s dying moments and said he found that by viewing it through a lens he could come to terms with it. Maybe we all have to find our own way – writing or crying, painting or photographing or just laying wreaths at the roadside.

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