What fiction is

The good kind of fiction takes you to places. It puts you in front of a washbasin magically filled with water from Maldives, sparkling blue, for you to dip your face into, and you soak your entire face in it for thirty minutes, an hour for a longer short story, weeks for reading a collection, and months for reading novels. As soon as you finish reading the story, you lift your head up from the washbasin--the way you lift your head up from the bathroom sink after barfing and swearing you'll never drink tequila again--that kind of lift, shockingly powerful. You move on with your daily commute, with the passersby and the occasional look they do, thinking, is this guy looking at me? But you don't think the same way again: the world becomes lighter, so much bearable. You see things differently. You begin to forget about distance and walk aimlessly instead. The story runs in your head; it wants you to go back and remember the lines people in real life would never say, unless you're lucky, or in unusual circumstances. The story wants you to think that the guy looking at you might be someone who just vomited a bird that morning, in his bedside table, curled up and flustered with the entire thing. That bird will mean something more than a bird, and the sky will be more than a sky--it will be from a painter; it will form the letters to make up your uncle's name, the one who was shot while walking down a street; things would mean so much more; it's as if you've just bought a new lens for your eyes