“If you go back to Tristram Shandy, Gogol, even Shakespeare, there’s the same move, which is to say, I would say it this way: that the pre-conceptual world, you know, when we walk out on the street and all that beautiful energy hits us, there’s a split second there where we’re really perceiving it. We haven’t labeled it and thereby reduced it yet. We’re just in it. And I think that’s somehow the moment you’re trying to recreate or simulate in that instant where the reader first reads your prose. Now, that’s tricky because we’re habituated. So, you say, oh, I’m on a street in Portland, Oregon. No big deal. But that street out there is not that, it’s much more. So I think that my goal is to just hint at that instant moment of crazy perception, and sometimes to do that you have to go a real long way around. I think when Kafka wrote the Metamorphosis that was probably the most honest, autobiographical way he could explain the way life felt to him, and the reason we love him is that it’s so counterintuitive, it’s so bold, and it’s so gutsy in rejecting what I’ve described as consensus-reality. Of course, language always reduces reality to simple things, because that’s how we get around, but there is that moment just before that happens which is so deliriously wonderful and I think that’s what we can sometimes get to in fiction.
At this point, my model of reality is basically that there’s a bunch of thought-streams walking and driving around. So we’re sitting here across the table: you’ve got a thought-stream going on, I’ve got one going on, we both know that the other one is real but we’re not quite buying it. And everything that you do today and feel today and accomplish today is going to be mediated or maybe caused by your thought-stream. So, when you think about the confusion in the world and the evil and also the beauty, it’s literally just those two thought streams hitting each other. Sparks going off. So for me, that’s a really exciting fictional model, to say well, you really could get at the truth by just modeling those.”
– George Saunders