Some people think reading fiction is a waste of time cz the stories aren’t real. They’re made up. But, literature illuminates. We can learn about human nature – esp the kind that we don’t understand cz human natures are many. If we understand ourselves, we have not cracked the code to comprehending humanity.
One thing I could never figure out, was why people lied with their hands in the cookie jar. Or lied inconsistently, as if people had no memories. Or lied when there was no reason to. Something I read in Susan Isaacs’ Past Perfect shed some light on that. “It [a character concocting many different stories about her background] may have given her a temporary sense of power, presenting herself in the way she wanted to be presented at any one time. … A wish-fulfillment lie. … It gives them a feeling of gratification for a little while, even if it’s unsustainable.” But if the person does reinvent something consistently, by “repeating an exaggeration or a lie often enough, it can change from a personal myth into a kind of truth for them. It can be as powerful as a real memory. That’s because, in essence, it becomes a memory.” Hence the conviction.