Historical fiction was not - and is not - meant to supplant literature from the period it describes. As a veteran of the Crimea, Tolstoy wrote 'War and Peace' to match his own internal sense of the truth of the Napoleonic wars, to dramatize what he felt literature from that period had failed to describe.
I've known the poet Eileen Myles since the 1990s, when I first moved to New York, and I remember seeing her walking her Pit Bull Rosie around the East Village. She had these beautiful arms and David Cassidy hair and the sort of swagger so many of the gay boys I knew wished we had. We all had crushes on her.
'War and Peace' holds a strange place in literary history, participating in the crowning of realism as a substantial and serious literary mode in America, even as the novel also contributed to the argument that historical fiction could be by nature dangerous, illegitimate, and inaccurate.
ACT UP was trying to explain to Americans that AIDS could affect all of us: that health care that ended once your disease was expensive could affect more than gay men with HIV or AIDS. We were trying to tell them about the future - a future they didn't yet see and would be forced to accept if they failed to act.
The beauty of Maine is such that you can't really see it clearly while you live there. But now that I've moved away, with each return it all becomes almost hallucinatory: the dark blue water, the rocky coast with occasional flashes of white sand, the jasper stone beaches along the coast, the pine and fir forests somehow vivid in their stillness.