And then I saw a man with curly hair and a beard sitting on the terrace eating lunch. I studied the dust-jacket photo, glanced at the man, back at the book, over to the table again.
I wandered by and smiled. He was sitting with his wife, baby girl and another woman. He signed the book and asked what I did for a living. At this, he gave me his e-mail address and told me to send him pages. His reply was gracious: When she berated him on that follow-up program, I seethed.
The whole thing was so cruel.
And in a genre often known for blurring the line between fact and fiction in the quest for novel-like portrayals of real events, Frey was being tarred and feathered for a common offense. Other memoirists clammed up. Four years have passed since Frey was fried, but as the poster boy for stretching the truth in the genre, his name is still the one that comes up during such discussions.
Yet other books—before and after his—have crossed much more defined lines. At home, the memoirs on my bookshelves contain all sorts of suspicious claims: For me, the very nature of memoir raises questions. How many details can change? Are novels based on the lives of their authors really all that different?
Why do memoirists say truth is stranger than fiction, while novelists say fiction brings out greater truths? What do we want from stories? One night a friend helped me clarify the issue: An embellishment is a type of lie, yes, but so are composite characters, created dialogue and the rendering of details impossible to recall.
Omissions can be hugely deceptive, yet all memoirists forgo some details. I once read a memoir by a writer who led readers to believe she had a terrific relationship with her husband; I later learned she had been having an affair. And I understand that those writers fear their work may lose credibility based on what others have done in this often muddy mix of a genre.
Memoir writing can be hard, painful work, and if those who are trying to stick strictly to literal truth want to avoid the kinds of questions other memoirs can raise, perhaps there should be a way to differentiate them. Turn your most important personal stories into compelling and meaningful reading experiences for others by considering:About The Last Bookstore is California’s largest used and new book and record store.
Currently in our third incarnation, we began in in a downtown Los Angeles loft. The key to writing a novel based on a true story is in how you spin the story to make it enjoyable for readers. Harlow Coban’s debut novel, Life in Death (February ), is a murder mystery which pulls from real-life situations from her own family history.
November The world needs your novel. A gritty, gripping tale of brotherhood, greed, and murder, this “engrossing” (Entertainment Weekly) novel is now a major motion picture starring Jessica Chastain, Tom Hardy, Shia Labeouf, Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce, and Mia initiativeblog.com a Foreword by Director John Hillcoat Based on the true story of Matt Bondurant’s grandfather and two .
Ron hadn’t read his books, but knew I enjoyed Frey’s writing style. (Frey’s memoir A Million Little Pieces was in bookstores, but he hadn’t yet appeared on Oprah.) I studied the dust-jacket photo, glanced at the man, back at the book, over to the table again.
Historians draw a sharp distinction between prehistory and history, with history defined by the advent of writing. The cave paintings and petroglyphs of prehistoric peoples can be considered precursors of writing, but they are not considered true writing because they did not represent language directly.