January 10, 2006

Lies, Liars and Literature

I think it's time to revisit the meaning of the word 'fiction.' Seriously.

Is it just me, or does anyone else just completely not care about the lying literary person of JT Leroy?? Every time something like this comes up it just cements for me the reasons I only write YA fiction. Because truly? I just don't really get so-called adults.

Literature is about becoming someone else, albeit briefly, to tell a story, and since we all know that stories are not always factual, and that this Leroy person has been deliberately murky on his/her story from the first, it's obviously a publicity stunt/spin, and the "mystery" doesn't merit as much ink as it has been given. All writers are liars, and all of us constantly don myriad personas to see how they fit. Of course, most of us don't try taking our personas outside to party with them, (Maybe that's an adult lit. thing. I've managed to get over the fact that I'm not sixteen.) but... either way, it just seems like a great, big, DUH that Leroy doesn't and never did exist. And the question du jour is: SO!?

Meanwhile literary lying continues. The Smoking Gun is allegedly outing another writer on the details of his last book. James Frey's, "A Million Little Pieces, an Oprah Book Club pick, has been disputed by several sources. I guess could appear to be a lot more serious, since the novel was written and marketed as a memoir, which is supposed to be completely autobiographical. If I were his editor and found that his story had conflicting police reports, I'd kick myself in the butt for not checking before it was printed and the movie rights were optioned. As for whether Frey is yet another liar? -- his novel is a story about himself based on his memories of a time (and during that time Frey was allegedly a drug addict. Hello?). Talk to any family members about a past memory and you'll find that no one agrees on what happened exactly, because everyone's point of view differs. Frey's reflecting on his life events rather than actually getting them down factually certainly blurs the genre lines, but does anyone believe that everything that Dave Eggers or David Sedaris write in their witty little memoirs actually happened that exactly as they say? Maybe that's what all of this is about: drama, because if one person's word is questioned, then it calls into question the work of the 'literary giants' among us. And how high does our reach extend if we're all brought down to the same size? Hm.

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