The Atlantic

I Used to Write Novels. Then Trump Rendered Fiction Redundant.

The president is a fiction writer run amok, the hero of his own impermeable drama.
Source: Susan Walsh / AP

I’m often asked why I ditched writing novels for political commentary. Usually I respond: “Because Donald Trump rendered fiction redundant.” That may sound glib, but it gets at something profound.

The aim of the novelist is to enlist others in his fantasies, immersing them in an alternative reality so emotionally compelling that they willingly suspend disbelief. Trump has dangerously conflated this sort of storytelling with real-life presidential leadership, casting himself in the role of the archetypal savior-hero, battling the forces of evil. He’s our first novelist in chief.

I’ve written several psychological novels. Unavoidably, I view Trump in psychological terms, as a character whose inner life dictates his actions, often for the worse. Others have been more circumspect. Many

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