Whether what follows amounts to a tale is not something I feel especially competent to judge. I have known people who would feel angry and let down if they were sold this piece on the understanding that it was a story. My Great-aunt Nell was one. She has long since passed on, having died in a mental hospital after many years of exile in the absolute solitude of Alzheimer’s disease; but while she was alive and daylit she never experienced any difficulty assigning texts she came across to their correct genres. She would have had no use for terms – like ‘fictions’ or ‘factions’ or ‘fictional essays’ – that pander to the uncertainties of pussy-footed intellectuals who have lost confidence in the simple distinction between truth and fiction. As for myself, still alive and apparently sane, I do not share her certainty and shall be quite happy to go along with any reader who would prefer to classify the ‘tale’ I am about to tell as an ‘essay’; or to de-classify it and call it a ‘construct’.

A Letter
Milan Kundera | Interview