just ordered the “garden of evening mist” by tan twang eng to meet the japanese gardener arimoto. my heart desires it. who says that book characters are any less real than people in flesh and blood? they are the voices that live in our minds, they have a life of their own, manifest in a form no less tangible than the body that is but a physical expression of a compromise for all those voices we have to integrate to become one acceptable social being. if allowed to express themselves as single beings, if being placed in their proper, ideal environment (like arimoto might, as i suspect, in the garden yugiri) they develop back into the full character they crave to be, rid of their siamese bonds to multiple twins inside one mind, and can induce you to be wiser, fiercer, more compassionate than you would be had you not known them. you grieve for them if misfortune befalls them. they can play to your most intellectual and your most archaic impulses. they answer your desires but only if they feel inclined. they disregard you if you fail to live up to their standards and refuse to be conquered by an average mind.