Amongst the various things that I'm reading, dipping into, devouring at the moment is Nabokov's “Laughter in the Dark” whose first two paragraphs pretty much articulate what novels and short stories do.
Once upon a time there lived in Berlin, Germany, a man named Albinus. He was rich, respectable, happy; one day he abandoned his wife for the sake of a youthful mistress; he loved; was not loved; and his life ended in disaster.
This is the whole of the story and we might have left it at that had there not been profit and pleasure in the telling; and although there is plenty of space on a gravestone to contain, bound in moss, the abridged version of a life, detail is always welcome.
Detail is always welcome. Brilliant, eh.