Fiction is rooted in an act of faith: a presumption of an inherent significance in human activity that makes daily life worth dramatizing and particularizing. There is even a shadowy cosmic presumption that the universe–the totality of what is, which includes our subjective impressions as well as objective data–composes a narrative and contains a poem, which our own stories and poems echo.
The impulse of praise–or its inverse, lament and execration–motivates literature at its deepest and most simple and noble; even those who see nothing to praise admire in others the results of this impulse. The writer’s most important asset is not wisdom or skill but an irrational, often joyous sense of importance attaching to what little he knows; and this is a religious sensation.
–John Updike, speaking on religion and contemporary American literature at IUPUI in Indianapolis, Indiana, 1994