Paul thomas writes that outrageous book and movie plots suggest that only those with dull tastes say reality is stranger than fiction.
When somebody insists that truth is stranger than fiction, you've got to wonder about their reading and viewing habits.
Surely this comparative judgment requires some familiarity with fiction, yet more and more people seem rather proud of the fact that they don't read a novel from one year to the next. Instead, they read books about self-esteem with titles such as "Dare to Fall in Love with Yourself!" and biographies of famous people, hoping, or perhaps assuming, that one day someone will write a book about them.
The notion probably gained currency during the heyday of social realism and its various offshoots, such as Italian neo-realist cinema and British kitchen sink drama.
When art sets out to represent everyday life at its most mundane, it's hardly surprising if the public decides the real world is more interesting.
Clearly those who believe truth is stranger than fiction don't watch action blockbusters. To take one small example from Planet Hollywood, bad guys can be deadeye Dicks where the hero's offsiders are concerned, but when it comes to the hero himself they can't shoot straight even if their lives depend on it.
The New Zealand Army would fire fewer bullets on the firing range in a year than Tom Cruise or Bruce Willis dodge in a single movie.
As scriptwriter William Goldman of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid fame put it: "Stars do not play heroes. Stars play gods."
Now and again, though, something happens to remind us why this notion persists.
Supermodel Naomi Campbell's bizarre appearance before the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague is a case in point, although Campbell herself increasingly resembles a fictional character, a cross between a haughty African queen in an H. Rider Haggard yarn and a predatory airhead in a sex and shopping romp.
La Campbell is one of those individuals - Mel Gibson being another; Michael Laws being a homegrown example - for whom conflict and tumult are constant companions and whose lives seem to be a never-ending screaming match.
Every time she throws a tantrum another cellphone bites the dust, either dashed against the wall or hurled at some unfortunate lackey.
True to form, she announced herself at a hearing dealing with civil war and mass murder by complaining about the inconvenience and gave evidence that would have stretched the credulity of a child who still believes in the tooth fairy, let alone a panel of international jurists.
Another example is the revelation that US$8.7 billion ($12.2 billion) in Iraqi oil revenues entrusted to the Pentagon for use in Iraq's reconstruction is unaccounted for.
To put this figure in perspective, it's roughly the amount of New Zealand taxpayers' money that will be spent on education in 2010/11.
When Jon Stewart had some fun with this story on The Daily Show this week, I thought he said US$87 billion, and was astonished that a scandal of that magnitude could be largely ignored by the mainstream media.
It's an illustration of the scale of America's quasi-imperial deployment and the military machine that underpins it (both of which seem somewhat at odds with the US' status as the greatest debtor nation in history) that a tenth of that amount can disappear without anyone being particularly surprised or agitated.
There are no records whatsoever for a third of this money. It could be sitting in an unused office somewhere down the Pentagon's 28km of corridors, or in a Swiss bank.
The rest can be tracked so far but no further: it was never put through the designated bank accounts, there's no paper or electronic trail showing to whom it was disbursed and for what purpose.
The head of the agency which noticed that US$8.7 billion had vanished into thin air observed that "weak oversight is directly co-related to increased numbers of cases of theft and abuse".
Amazingly enough, this is not the most unintentionally hilarious example of bureaucratic understatement in recent weeks.
Last month, a man wearing a black dress was discovered having sex with a dog that didn't belong to him in the dry moat of Pendennis Castle, a fort overlooking Falmouth Bay in Cornwall, built by Henry VIII to repel Spanish invaders.
The castle is administered by English Heritage, a mostly government-funded body that looks after historic places. When quizzed by the media, an English Heritage spokesman said: "This was a very rare incident."
In real life, maybe. In fiction, men in black dresses are forever having sex with other people's pets in and around castles - in dry moats, in punts if the moat is full, in the royal bedchamber, you name it. You just have to read the right books.