Friday Addendum

A few items as we wind up the week:

First of all, be certain to check out the great guest post by Roy Burkhead today, which is part of a new series which I hope will be a regular Friday feature.

Next, it has come to my attention that I’m having link issues, and no I don’t mean golf, I mean internet links.  I guess there are worse fates than having links issues, but they are a bit of a pain.  I’m pretty sure it happens when I use the Mozilla Firefox browser, which for some reason does not seem to get along very well with Typepad.  So as long as I remember to open Explorer, this problem should be dealt with.  I hope.

Finally, I found another good article about the whole memoir/hoax brouhaha this week, and you can read it here.  The article is called "Stranger than Truthiness" (truthiness being a word James Frey coined to describe the not-quite-factual events he related in his memoir).   The article is actually a post, and it appears on the New York Times blog about books called Paper Cuts, which seems worth checking back to read often  (It cracks me up that all the newspapers are embracing blogging.  Our local newspaper is full of headlines and teasers about stories that will only appear in the blogs.  However, I applaud their efforts–newspapers must do something to keep up with the internet.)

Rachel Donadio wrote the blog about this week’s memoir hoaxes, and these lines caught my eye as being especially apropos:

"As any publisher will tell you, memoir sells better than fiction. But why? Here, I think, we run up against the question of sincerity and authenticity. Memoirs are seen as more authentic than novels. And we earnest Americans, raised to value hard work and plain talk, will always choose faux authenticity over real artifice. (Mark Twain understood that better than anyone before or since.)"

We are a nation that loves reality shows, too.  But why is it that we don’t understand that even reality shows are scripted?  And memoirs are shaped into books that conform to the rules of story-telling, which may not coincide with the truth.  Every novelist I know will tell you that that the number one rule of writing fiction is that it be truthful, even though it is not relating real events.  What novels do is create "real artifice" (which is my new favorite phrase) in the service of telling a great story.  And, I, for one, still prefer to read a novel over a memoir.  I’ve been burned by too many memoirs that promise a great story and end up being a  chronological recitation of someone’s boring childhood. 

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