Recent articles on books, authors, and all things literary
This article drew my attention because of my interest in memoir. One perennial question about memoirs is how much of the content is true, and the related question, when, if ever, it’s permissible to make up things in memoir. But here Becca Rothfeld asks how much autobiographical material novelists can or should incorporate into their fiction:
Linda Rosenkrantz’s “novel” Talk (1968), a compilation of transcribed conversations between three denizens of the New York art world that was recently reissued by New York Review Books.
Emily Temple writes:
it’s amazing to me how rare it still is to find complex female friendships in literature for adults (YA has it a little more locked), and even the whiff of a good one can send me straight to the bookstore. In case you’ve been having the same feeling, here are 25 books that investigate female friendship in one form or another.
According to Alain de Botton:
A novel is a machine for simulating experience, a ‘life simulator’ and – like its flight equivalent – it allows us safely to experience what it might – in real life – take us years and great danger to go through. Unaided, we are puny in our powers of empathy and comprehension, isolated from the inner lives of others, limited in our experiences, short of time, and able to encounter only a tiny portion of the world first hand. Fiction extends our range – it takes us inside the intimate consciousness of strangers, it lets us sit in on experiences that would be terrifying or reckless in reality; it lends us more lives than we have been given.
Read why he believes we should spend more time reading what he terms Classical novels than we spend reading Romantic novels, which he says construct “a devilish template of expectations of what relationships are supposed to be like – in the light of which our own love lives often look grievously and deeply unsatisfying.”
Here’s more on the question of truth, memoir, and fiction:
both the memoirist and the novelist are inevitably inspired by the people they have met, and will make use of them to suit their purposes. This may not strictly be plagiarism, but it is similar territory. “Writing is an act of thievery,” admits Khalid Hosseini, author of the autobiographical novel The Kite Runner. “You adapt experiences and anecdotes for your own purposes.”
© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown