Alex Preston at The Guardian:
The American novelist John Barth claimed that rather than the traditional “what happened next?”, the real question that every reader is asking him or herself as they read is “the essential question of identity – the personal, professional, cultural, even species-specific ‘Who Am I?’” Stories are ordering, sense-making machines, helping our brains to render the frantic incoherence of chaotic existence into comprehensible narratives. These narratives, as Peter Brooks showed in his classic critical work Reading for the Plot, “follow the internal logic of the discourse of mortality” – stories have beginnings, middles and ends because our lives do. Every time we read a novel, we’re giving ourselves a new way of thinking about the shape and structure of our own lives. And even in the age of AI, the novel remains our most subtle and sophisticated piece of technology when it comes to answering these deep, existential questions.