One virtue of the novel is that fictional characters often outlive the novelist who created them. Actually, that's one of the reasons why some people give up their day jobs to tell stories instead. Aside from having children, fiction writing is one of the best ways to leave evidence of oneself. And, in some case?think Atticus Finch, Ebenezer Scrooge, and Tom Sawyer?it can even lead to immortality. Saul Bellow is survived by Augie March and Herzog. Nathan Zuckerman and Alexander Portnoy will endure long after Philip Roth is dead. E.L. Doctorow has already given many historical characters, from Harry Houdini to Albert Einstein, an afterlife that he can't grant to himself. Danny Saunders is still slugging line drives nearly a decade after Chaim Potok passed away.