Sunday, January 14, 2007

Truth in advertising

See William T. Vollman's devastating NYT review of Anthony Swofford's new novel for some interesting material (this isn't his main point at all, but it's related) on authenticity in fiction versus memoir. It is my opinion that some writers just do better with one than the other--I heard an interesting observation once, for instance, by someone who'd been in a writing group with Mary Karr when she was first working on the book that became The Liars' Club, that the book only started to work--that the language only came alive--when she stopped thinking of it as a novel and began to consider it a memoir instead. In other words, there's no reason "authenticity" (authenticity the aesthetic effect of language, not authenticity in the sense of "actual" truthfulness) should be available to every writer in every genre--for some writers, it comes much more easily in one than another (you might even think, say, of the poet who writes essays whose language rings false or in some other respect lack that quality of truthfulness found in his/her best poems).

(Thanks to Ed for the link.)

1 comment:

  1. As a poet, and an avid reader, I have to say that I very much enjoyed my leisurely stroll through your was time well spent; entertaining and enlightening. I invite you to visit my own, should you care to.