From Electric Lit:
Delusion, when used as a literary device, is just another word for truth-seeking. Facts are not truth. Characters with irrational thinking have usually given the facts a try, and are frankly unimpressed. Instead, they develop an extreme conviction that, held up against the traditionally accepted facts or reality, seems ludicrous. Even dangerous.
Yet I would argue that most of us, in real life, labor under one delusion or another. The belief that hard work leads to success. The faith that so-and-so loves us. Even when proven wrong—even when we are ruined by such things—we stubbornly believe. We want to believe. Nursing a myth can keep us alive.
Delusion, especially the obsessive variety, may lead one to certain doom, but often a delicious doom, full of discovery. My list concerns books with characters who, for better or worse, sink into their own world to find something beyond the narrow existential experience society has deemed acceptable. Bonnie, the main character of my book, One’s Company, attempts the same by submerging herself into the alternate reality of a vintage sitcom to escape her own past. She wants to be other people, live other lives. Whether she knows it or not, she is trying to heal herself. For her, delusion is necessary. Maybe it is for all of us. Perhaps it is only through transcendence, or escape from this human trap, that we will ever approach happiness.
. . . .
Treasure Island!!! by Sara Levine
The main character of this book is obsessed with the Robert Louis Stevenson classic, Treasure Island, and when she ends up living back with her parents after some parrot-related hijinx, her obsession ripens into delusion. Her voice is strong and relentless, and she is very! Serious! About it! Some people find this book funny, which it is, but it’s also a risky book that’s full of domestic minutiae amid the madness, which I wholeheartedly admire.
Earthlings by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori
Like many breezy-sounding songs from the 1970s that are actually about suicide and societal unrest, Earthlings has a very conversational tone that belies the out-there plot. Two children are convicted in their belief that they are literal aliens not of this earth. It gets weird.
The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark
“You’re not my type!” Lise, the main character, screams this phrase at other people as she hunts for someone to assist in her own annihilation. The plot of this book unfolds over the span of a couple days in an unnamed European country, and follows erratic Lise as she searches for The One.
Link to the rest at Electric Lit