Against Epiphanies

Charles Baxter, in The Atlantic, a long time ago:

I disapprove of epiphanies and their phony auras but I am besotted by them — can’t get enough of them in life or elsewhere. So sue me. Seriously though, as a person who was brought up with religious faith and then got out of it, I’m always looking for secular manifestations of the sacred. At the same time I know that when these moments are arranged — particularly at the end of short stories — they acquire an absolutely formulaic quality. I noticed it particularly a few years ago when I was reading an edition of Best American Short Stories and, just out of curiosity, I started skipping to the endings of all the short stories. It was an unsettling experience because in that edition I kept coming upon final pages in which there was a moment when a character stopped and looked off into the distance, and then a sentence the equivalent of “Suddenly she realized…” appeared.

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