Friday, May 23, 2008
You Can't Stray
Hi everyone! Hope you're having a good Friday. Saw the new James Frey novel (thank God he isn't calling it a memoir) in the bookstore today and thought of Charles' post on Razored Zen about the issue of Frey's work (and subsequent deception of his audience) which brings up an interesting question about the difference between fiction, thinly veiled autobiography, and memoir. After years of reading, writing, and teaching, I finally came to the brilliant conclusion (okay, it's not that revolutionary, but bear with me) that memoir requires insight into the narrator's situation and character. A story does not. Both require a compelling character, but in memoir, it's more important that the character be likeable. In fiction, you're more free to be whatever the story requires. In memoir, life is the story and you can't stray.
It's no suprise that I wrote fiction for years before I felt as if I could tackle nonfiction. My life never interested me that way and the parts that did, I couldn't seem to get work except in the most wooden of ways on the page. There's a large portion of people who believe that writing memoir is easier and it is in certain ways. But there's a personal cost that comes with good nonfiction, the issues of complicity and shame. If you're honest, it's probably going to be painful. Fiction has never evoked that feeling in me of being a bad person. But nonfiction does all the time. I like going back and forth between the forms because each teaches something about the other one. Readers, if you have any ideas on this issue, please feel free to share.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"If you don't know a man, you can't crush him and if you know him, you probably won't crush him." G.K. Chesterton
Drinking Pistons drink suggestion: The Sheed: a shot of Three Wisemen
Benedictions and Maledictions