I tell writing students that stories about adultery and stories about cancer are tired and done to death, and that stories about adultery AND cancer are no better. A story about either of these subjects or both should actually be about something else; the adultery and cancer should be backgrounded. Otherwise—boring. We’ve seen it. A million times.
I thought, at first, that this story was going to be about something else. It seemed to have a message about truth and then it seemed to be about consequences, but then it seemed to be about lies and no consequences, and finally it just seemed to be about adultery and the excuses we make for it.
The story is this: Piotr is having an affair partly because he thinks he’s dying. His wife, who has had an affair, finds out. The family holds an intervention, but it turns out that Piotr’s older brother has had an affair with the same woman. We’re all just mayflies, etc.
I think I’ve been giving my writing students good advice.
June 1, 2009: "Love Affair with Secondaries by Craig Raine