I would like to address an issue which I feel strongly about and which was brought up in David Thomson's review of James Brown's "Final Performance" (The Book Review, Feb. 14). This issue I refer to is that of taking a work of fiction to be just that--a work of fiction.
In his review, Thomson refers "to a reality that is not owned up to in the author's biography on the jacket." He goes on to cite similarities between Brown's older brother, Barry, and Mike, the older brother in "Final Performance." Obviously, the reason that the "reality" is not referred to is because people such as Thomson may note the similarities in reading this novel and consequently not look at it as fiction, but instead as a true account of Barry Brown's life.
Thomson goes on to suggest that "fiction needs its own life" but that he does not "mean to suggest that the novelist has done anything improper in resorting to family history." He contradicts himself and cannot bring himself to forget about Barry Brown long enough to look at this novel purely as a fictional work. Thomson would like Brown to either invent more, or less, writing either a story about brothers (which this already is) or a biography about Barry Brown.