... is the title of an essay by Vendela Vida in today's Sunday NYT Book Review wherein she talks about starting a story with a true incident that appears improbable or impossible to many readers.
She asks, "...[w]hat kind of agreement writers and readers have entered into. As readers, we don't want to read stories that are less interesting than the every day lives we lead. Do we? And as writers I don't think we should necessarily have to explain that something did happen in real life to justify a novel's unlikely plot. Of course it's unlikely. That's why we read. That's why we write."
There's more, all of it great stuff. I think she's dead on, especially about the not wanting to read stories that are less interesting than the every day lives we lead.
ADDED: "Of course it's unlikely. That's why we read. That's why we write. Who ever finished a book and said, That was so satisfying in how likely it all was? Readers and writers have to agree, and allow, that reality is very strange, that life surprises us a dozen times a day. And if we want our novels to be memorable, shouldn't they be a little stranger than reality, rather than the other way around?"