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May 1, 2014 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Just as the ‘20s would roar a little quieter if not for Gatsby’s extravagant soirees, Missouri’s heritage would fall short in the absence of Huck and Tom’s life lessons. Take Hogwarts out of a fourth-grade classroom or seize Mr. Darcy from a young Austenite’s heart, and we lose a touch of magic and romance. This is the world without fiction.
Our limited realities burst open with the realm of make-believe. On a vast spectrum, we’re entertained by The Hunger Games’ light fare and forever moved by Gabriel García Márquez’s epic magical realism. Some writers influence us long after they leave earth; characters live on to represent archetypes of human nature. We ask, “Are you a Scarlett or a Melanie?”
Through fiction, we can experience and understand pain from a distance. The five winners of Vox’s competition, selected by The Missouri Review, all happened to explore resolute subjects with short but impactful scenes. They delve into the fear of the unknown, the strange ways we cope with death and rising above abusive relationships.
The authors carefully chose their words and ordered them in a single arrangement. But with fiction, the reader must interpret the mysteries that remain. The stories are perhaps entirely made up, perhaps ingrained with specks of truth. As we search for meaning, the obscure line between the real and the imagined fades away.