… he was also the victim of his own dogmas, the most tendentious of which was his belief that ‘telling stories is telling lies’, so that novelists should in effect confine themselves to providing accurate recreations of their own personal experience. This theory was not at all well thought out. Joyce, for instance, who was one of Johnston’s great idols, never did anything of the sort, neither did Beckett, another mentor. Eva Figes argued the point with him a number of times and provides all that we need by way of counter-argument:
on literal truth, I think Bryan lost touch
with an essential, great truth,
that the only way to tell the truth is
and that is the real
starting point of meaningful fiction.