Seeing as how I started it a while ago with the whole “suck it” thing, which I actually came to regret, not just because Big Jim wrote me a snarky email, but because I’m at least a little nicer than that, usually, and had second thoughts about saying something that harsh to someone that I probably wouldn’t say to their face, and even though I still disagree wildly with his whole “hold on” thing, I’m sort of over it. That said, I am reminded now of why I write fiction; so I don’t have to keep track of what I made up. Well, that and it’s just fun.
All that said, longtime readers of standBy Bert know my feeling about categories. I think, excluding journalistic and biography-type writings, which have a clear-cut responsibility to documented truth, in terms of what my dad likes to call the litrachah, there should be two:
I enjoyed very much Megan’s take on this and I will add my two cents:
Cent one: fiction can be all made up, partly made up, exaggerated, stretched out, blown out of proportion, over the top, maybe even not made up at all, if you change names and don’t care if people recognize themselves and maybe hate you.
Cent two: nonfiction can not be made up. If you’re going to say it’s true, I believe there is a responsibility on the part of the author to write to the best of their memory. Yes. There is a certain amount of gray area in terms of what the word “truth” means; memory can be tricky. (I suspect I’d remember pretty well whether I was in jail for a day or three months, drunk even, and so yes, I think it matters very much.) However, can nonfiction be extremely creative? Absoefffin-lutely; witness Dave Eggers. Some say he made stuff up too. The difference? He flat out said some of it was made up. This is some of us in the biz call “cross-genre.” And I have no issue with this if it’s billed as such, in fact, bring it on, I say, especially if it’s flat out fun to read, as A Heartbreaking Work of SG was. Not so much A Million LPs, that on top of being allegedly untrue – had it been a brilliant book in either category, I might be more forgiving. The whole thing about this book was the supposed horrifying truth of it. And to me there’s a difference between my version of the truth, someone else’s version of the same truth, and what might be gray about that. I had on a blue sweater vs. a gray one, not so critical, and probably unprovable. I am a horrible criminal vs. a guy who spent a night in jail – there’s gonna be papers. It casts into doubt the whole rest of it, in my mind.
Perhaps a new category, if it wouldn’t mess up the librarians too much:
Maybe it’s True, Maybe it Isn’t.