"Fiction has always seemed more honest to me, ironically. I don’t see the world in terms of memoir, probably mostly because I’ve never read a lot of memoir. The memoirs I have enjoyed “read like fiction,” as the saying goes. I don’t really believe in a difference between novel and memoir—all narrative is invented, as far as I’m concerned—and see the distinctions as little more than marketing labels. The nonfiction label is a popular one. Passing the story off as a memoir would have perhaps made for an easier sell—even before writing much, since you can sell memoir with only an outline. But it just wouldn’t have been right for me. I wanted to be able to rearrange chronology, turn some characters into composites. I wanted to revise history. I wanted to invent characters’ perceptions. (All of this takes place in memoir, but we pretend it doesn’t, or apologize for it, if we admit to it.) If I’d edited out the more obviously invented parts, I wouldn’t have been able to tell a story that felt worth telling."
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
The Greeks believed that libraries were places of great healing, and that poetry and literature revealed deep spiritual truths. I still believe that today, that seeing alternatives played out in a novel can give you an idea of what to do in your own life, and that sometimes a made up story has more insight into heartbreak, despair, loss, frustration, and failure (and joy, and hope, and love) than any life coach-supplied affirmation or self-help to do list. Every other Wednesday, I will be answering questions about life's quandaries with a little bookish insight. This is an extension of my Kind Reader column, and you can find past entries at Book Lover.
In almost every culture, there is a story or a myth of a young man who is sent by his family to infiltrate and destroy an enemy of some kind. A tyrannical king, a fearsome dragon, whatever. But when the son arrives, the king greets the warrior with wine and women, or the dragon lulls him to sleep with alluring songs. He enjoys himself so much, that over time, he forgets who he is, what his mission is, and the family he is supposed to be defending. Bookslut at her best