Re: Is A Narrative Arc So Much To Ask For?

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I don't buy that at all. After all, why would you be upset that the memoirs turn out to have been made up, if all you cared about was the repute of the genre? And it's not as if your choices are compelling and lowbrow or highbrow and forbidding.

A large part of the interest has got to be that memoirs are supposed to be true narratives, not just that it's ok to be seen with a memoir. (Maybe it's ok to be seen with a memoir because they're supposed to be true, but that aspect has got to be there.)


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:32 PM
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You don't think that there's a quality of straightforwardness largely absent from current literary fiction?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:34 PM
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2: Given that there's a large amount of straightforward literary fiction available --as in, most of it-- that really can't be it. It's more likely that memoir sales are driven by the same market that drives celebrity culture and "reality TV," the thirst for superficially "true" stories of others' misery and/or uplift.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:37 PM
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I don't know much about current literary fiction, but ... I would be surprised, to be honest. There's a lot of stuff on the shelves of the bookstores I visit, it's not all old, and it's not all abstruse. And even if that were the case, why would you get all the reaction you do when the fraud is exposed? Why shouldn't people say, instead, "well, you sure put one over on me—but it was a ripping yarn anyway!"?

I always thought it would be great if it turned out that Leon Wieseltier's father hadn't died after all, and he had made up Kaddish from start to finish—what an achievement!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:38 PM
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Given that there's a large amount of straightforward literary fiction available --as in, most of it--

Huh. This is not my perception. Or, to put it another way, I'd bank on my ability to distinguish between any current literary novel and a memoir (actual or purported) by reading a five page or so chunk, based purely on the writing style.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:40 PM
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I think memoirs allow people to write melodramatic purple prose about how they Suffered and how they are a Victim but they Rose Above. Those are all very pleasurable, high-status things these days. It's a pleasure for the writer and a vicarious thrill for the reader.

However, the cachet and the pleasure is crucially dependent on having Actually Suffered. Being a middle class writer who fantastizes about noble victimization and suffering carries no vicarious thrill for the reader, and no status for the writer.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:42 PM
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Now, I'd say the outraged response is because the story was sold as true, and then it turned out to be a lie, but that doesn't mean that the same person who bought the book as a memoir wouldn't have wanted to buy it as fiction.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:42 PM
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A large part of the interest has got to be that memoirs are supposed to be true narratives

That's certainly it for me. Fiction doesn't excite me, but I enjoy a good memoir.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:42 PM
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I'd bank on my ability to distinguish between any current literary novel and a memoir (actual or purported) by reading a five page or so chunk, based purely on the writing style.

This claim of distinguishability is very different from that put forward by proxy in the post.

Hell, Atonement had plenty of narrative `zip', but:
1. it was a damn sight better written than I imagine most of these memoirs are
2. it was not written from the first person
3. everyone says it was a literary novel.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:42 PM
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I'd bank on my ability to distinguish between any current literary novel and a memoir (actual or purported) by reading a five page or so chunk, based purely on the writing style.

Well, I certainly wouldn't want to bet on this; in the age of "creative nonfiction," the differences between novelist and memoirist style are shrinking on the whole, not growing.

This may be true of, say, a couple of prize-winning authors so despised by B.R. Myers, but Annie Proulx and David Guterson are hardly the length and breadth of literary fiction.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:43 PM
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w-lfs-n is right; it's not just the narrative itself, but the semi-illicit thrill of looking into the life of some exotic other. When we find out the author isn't really a recovering drug addict prostitute turned single parent, we feel cheated of our voyeurism.

Also, Yglesias seems to have a remarkably low threshold for the "artsy-fartsy." The world doesn't lack for highly accessible middlebrow fiction with straightforward narratives.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:43 PM
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Now, I'd say the outraged response is because the story was sold as true

So, like I said, you put one over on me, good for you.

If I'm outraged because the story was sold as true, and it wasn't, that implies that a large part of my interest in it was predicated on it struth.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:44 PM
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Deine "current literary fiction", LB. Jennifer Egan's The Keep or Michael Chabon's Mysteries of Pittsburgh are both comfortably upper-middlebrow, but they're not going to be mistaken for Julio Cortézar. I think the flap has more to do with the perceived value of authenticity: this is what it's like to grow up poor in inner city LA, or be an addict, or be native American, or at least one person's experience of it. Ordinary people are interesting, but you need to be a good writer to make the lives of ordinary people interesting without the explicit promise of truthiness that memoirs offer. (The excerpts of both Frey's and the Margaret Jones books that I read were terrible; had they been marketed as novels, I think people would have applied a vastly more critical eye.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:45 PM
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B's had an interesting and similar take on this, too.

The memoir is supposed to offer us a glimpse at subjective truth, or actual events filtered through personal experience (and the choice of which events to present.) The reason the reader might choose the memoir over the fiction is that the reader hopes to get some sense of what it was really like to live those events, something that this author can give that even a better author writing a historical fiction couldn't.

If that's missing, what's left is a book whose insights (not just facts) are completely untrustworthy.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:46 PM
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In fact, there are probably five-page stretches of Hopscotch that could be mistaken for a memoir of debauched bohemian life in Paris.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:46 PM
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I think folks have it right: we have lots of fictionalized portrayals (books, tv, film, video games) of what it's like to be this or that kind of person, but very little that's supposed to be the real thing, and people want that. The fraud seems tied to what snark is saying: you can be a much worse writer if you're selling a story that's supposed to be true.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:48 PM
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From John Dolan's classic review of James Frey (written years before he was exposed as a fake):

Rehab stories provide a way for pampered trust-fund brats like Frey to claim victim status. These swine already have money, security and position and now want to corner the market in suffering and scars, the consolation prizes of the truly lost. It's a fitting literary metonymy for the Bush era: the rich have decided to steal it all, even the tears of the losers.

The suffering is what matters. The writing is just a window on the personal suffering that gives the whole thing authenticity. Nobody is reading it for the literary quality. You're supposed to be revealing scars.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:49 PM
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The fraud seems tied to what snark is saying: you can be a much worse writer if you're selling a story that's supposed to be true.

In fact, being a bad writer might be advantageous.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:50 PM
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In fact, being a bad writer might be advantageous.

Yeah, depending on the story being told, it could make the thing seem more "authentic."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:51 PM
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In fact, there are probably five-page stretches of Hopscotch that could be mistaken for a memoir of debauched bohemian life in Paris.

Gregorovius let his glass be filled with vodka and began to drink with dainty sips. Two candles were burning on the mantelpiece where Babs kept bottles of beer and her dirty stockings. I took the flimsy cup and watched as he poured a little of the amber liquid, first onto the ground and then into my cup. This was my first taste of straight Hennessey, although I had always seen the big homies drinking it that way. It tasted like burning, but almost instantly, as he had said, my head felt at least a little better. Gregorovius admired the listless burning of the candles through the hyaline glass. The big homie smiled at me and then slipped the remaining cups over the neck of the Hennessey bottle, reaching into his back pocket with his spare hand.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:51 PM
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In my experience, people who have actually gone through horrible stuff and write about aren't self-congratulatory and they don't wallow in the suffering. Which the fakes I've seen do.

I actually think these fake victimization memoirs are symptomatic of some pretty severe moral dislocation somewhere.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:52 PM
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about *it*


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:52 PM
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And you can get away with trafficking in cheap stereotypes. Frey taught his big black cellmate to read, didn't he? If I say 'it's real', I don't have to bother with character development nearly as much, and if my real experiences confirm other people's prejudices, then I'm telling it like it is.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:52 PM
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Fiction doesn't excite me, but I enjoy a good memoir.

Just the opposite for me. I avoid memoir, even covering subjects I'm otherwise interested in. I like histories and biographies better.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:53 PM
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A person of my acquaintance really needs to crank out that memoir that s/he keeps threatening.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:54 PM
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I blame Oprah for the lapse of the publishing market into Queen-for-a-Day, but that's probably not entirely fair to her. Overcoming Adversity would be sold by the pound even in an Oprah-less world.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:55 PM
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I like histories and biographies better.

Interesting; I don't like biographies--I think about how hard it is to get a handle on people I know well, and I'm something like low-level outraged that someone would write about a historical figure with any confidence--it seems like interpreting a text that you only have a few pages of.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:56 PM
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...I think about how hard it is to get a handle on people I know well, and I'm something like low-level outraged that someone would write about a historical figure with any confidence....

The fool reads for answers, the wise man for mysteries.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:57 PM
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I blame Oprah for the lapse of the publishing market into Queen-for-a-Day,

Not me. I'm basically in Oprah's corner for encouraging reading, period.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:58 PM
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I think Dave Pelzer is probably another fraud, although there doesn't seem to be much interest in exposing him. He gets mostly a middlebrow / social service professional audience, so he sort of flies beneath the radar even though his books sell massively.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:58 PM
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Yeah, depending on the story being told, it could make the thing seem more "authentic."

Compare the Margaret Jones to, say, Paul Beatty's very funny Tuff and contemplate why she chose to write in dialect. There are things going on specifically as related to the depiction of the intersection of race and poverty, since, as we know, white people like uplifting stories about the struggles of The Other to stay morally virtuous (or, alternately, seeing flashing lights reading "Ice Cube's a pimp"). It's notable to me that Jones felt she had to represent herself as being part-Native American; being a poor person of color is a decades-old signifier of authenticity, so why not put on the makeup?

Also, I was saying to rfts that this seems related to my claim about why nobody was interested in seeing Domino (other than it being crap). The story of a swinging-London-era South African model who decides that she wants to be a thrill-seeking bounty hunter should be interesting, right? Except on the big screen, anyone in a starring role already is breathtakingly gorgeous, so the things that might make an interesting memoir all vanish into the air.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 3:59 PM
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Part of the appeal of memoir is surely that they provide some Truth About What It Felt Like that we believe we can get from a person who lived through an experience. So when it turns out that the writer didn't actually live through the experience, some of the value of the memoir is erased.

Somewhat relatedly, I think we're willing to elevate lesser quality writing if the biographical information purported by the memoir would tend to excuse it.
I haven't Frey's memoir, or the memoir from the South Central gang lady, but people went nuts over JT Leroy's writing, which was really not very good at all. People were just more willing to like it, because it was good for a 15 year old boy with basically no education.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:00 PM
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This discussion is reminding me of how amazingly good Obama's early memoir "Dreams From My Father" was. He actually has ironic distance on his own sentimentality, and not a trace of self-pity. He's pretty tough minded.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:02 PM
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Please don't let that derail the thread. I don't disagree that Obama is the antichrist. I was just thinking about good memoirs I'd read recently and how they were different than bad ones.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:03 PM
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Not me. I'm basically in Oprah's corner for encouraging reading, period.

Even though I'm the kind of snob who would have trouble buying a book with the book club symbol on it (don't want people to think that my reading selections are influenced in such a base manner), totally agreed.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:03 PM
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Apparently Americans like the fantasy that someone could grow up in the ghetto, have everyone they love get shot or die of drug overdoses, and then by magic turn themselves into a memoir-writing home-buying member of the middle class. Too bad for those other losers. What was wrong with them?

(I was really pissed off when I found out Moll Flanders was actually some guy!)


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:06 PM
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(I was really pissed off when I found out Moll Flanders was actually some guy!)

I feel the same way about Fanny Hill.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:06 PM
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I feel the same way about George Eliot and George Sand, not to mention the Bell brothers.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:09 PM
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I was very disappointed to discover that Caryl Phillips was no Jewess!


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:10 PM
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After reading her writing, I had my heart set on Evelyn Waugh—you can imagine my surprise on our first meeting.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:11 PM
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Yes, and I think it's a recapitulation of the birth of the novel. Cervantes, Smollett, Defoe, and Laclos did not make clear to their readers that they were making up the story. There was a tradition of copying and republishing letters in France, hence the epistolary novel. Broadsheets and newspapers in England published rambling accounts, usually pseudonymous-- doesn't B know something about these?-- that were occassionally bundled and republished. Defoe came out of this world.

Quevedo and Grimmelshausen are not that widely read in English, but Grimmelshausen is worth sampling at least. Defoe and his times were pretty interesting. Literary style seems like the only point in reading someone young and contemporary, and if a writer's style is weak, I don't see the point of bothering. Oprah or InStyle are better for zeitgeist.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:11 PM
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After reading her writing, I had my heart set on Evelyn Waugh--you can imagine my surprise on our first meeting.

Vile bodies, indeed.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:12 PM
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The excerpts of ... Margaret Jones books that I read were terrible

Although B's claim (possibly m.'s as well) on her blog was that the writing was [likely to be] good, and that if she was good enough to succeed with a faux memoir [need a pithy term here], then she will succeed otherwise.

That said, I think that the memoir format puts prose aesthetics aside as a consideration - you're down to plotting and narrative flow. Which is more accessible and, of course, easier to achieve.

My sense of it is that memoirs are interesting (insofar as they are) because the writer has had a chance to really savor and reflect on her own experiences - which can lead to satisfying plot and flow without requiring any sort of prose adeptness. Which is why few memoirists have other compelling works. It's the every-band-has-one-good-album phenomenon.

As for the outrage over falsity, I can't help but think that the claimed confusion as to why readers should be unhappy about being lied to is a sign of ivory towerism. The ostensible point of a memoir is to open oneself to the reader: if the memoir is any good at all, the reader will feel empathy for the writer - the actual, living individual. No one* likes being hoodwinked. You shouldn't need an advanced degree to understand this.

* Ben excepted, of course. Hey Ben, I've got this great card game going....


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:13 PM
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The ostensible point of a memoir is to open oneself to the reader:

So... it had better be true, and the appeal is its truth, etc.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:15 PM
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Biographies are sometimes great for the primary material, ogged. Even if the reader suspects that the author is being a little hard on the subject, the letters (emails, testimony) are right there!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:16 PM
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For a long time I was uncertain as to whether "First Catch Your Puffin" was true or not, and I didn't really mind either way. The Granta page gives the game away, alas.

This wasn't ivory-towerism, either; I read that story (er, I guess it isn't actually a story) when I was 13.

My claimed confusion is just this: if you're interested in memoir for the narrative, then it's unclear why you should be upset as to its truth or falsity. Plainly it's quite sensible to be upset about it, when you're reading a memoir—because you're not just interested in the narrative. (Obviously no one is interested in the sorts of "memoirs" Kenny G writes.)


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:17 PM
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43: I'm going to back snark up and say that the chapter I read of the Jones book was just awful.

Also, listen to her NPR interviews -- she's trying to sound like Snoop on the Wire. Minstrel shows are mortifying. (And less than cute.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:22 PM
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47: Word.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:24 PM
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I think the middle-class-white-lady-disguised-as oppressed-urban-youth "memoir" bothers me in that it feeds into a certain myth that appeals to both conservatives and liberals alike, that someone with little or no formal education who is a genius can rise above all their circumstances, if they really wanted to, and produce a work of art. Obviously, this does happen, and there's a ton of great literature written by cultural "outsiders." But when you're a cultural insider claiming outsider status, you may think you're using your privilege to highlight the struggles of the outsiders, but mostly, it just seems to me to be suffering-appropriation.

My class was discussing this yesterday w/r/t an 18c novel we were reading in which a harassed (but educated, good-looking, Anglican English) dude disguises himself as an Irishman and then a Jew, and experiences extra discomfort upon realizing he is even more oppressed. Is it highlighting the super-extra-bad struggles of actually oppressed people? Or is it like, "Not only did my life suck, but I also totally had to be a Jew for a week"? The line between the two is blurry to me. And I think that discomfort is part of why people lie to publishers about who they are.

On top of that, of course, are the whole "memoirs are selling right now" thing and the "no one would dare be critical of a memoir from a woman who's struggled so much" thing. Additionally, readers know that novels are made up of choices, either good or bad, in a way they fail to recognize about memoirs.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:25 PM
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Interesting case: West with the Night. It's not exactly clear what was embellished, but it's universally accepted that Beryl Markham stretched some.* Personally, I loved the book and had no problem with the stretchers - I was curious to know what they might be, but I think that's just natural curiosity about an engaging subject (I check Wikipedia for more info on Sopranos episodes, but not for other shows).

But anyway, the story is fascinating, and would be as fact or fiction. The writing, as I recall, was serviceable, but the appeal is almost entirely in the story. Maybe the stretchers don't matter because the whole story is wild, and since the outline is true, who cares at the edges?

So what I'm wondering is, how much verisimilitude do people need in the memoirs of less interesting characters? Do we take as a given that all memoirs have stretchers, and as long as the broad outlines are true, close enough? Or does all but the most minor literary license taint a memoir?

* OK, I misunderstood the controversy. Although there are some questions about actual events, the real controversy is about authorship. I believe that this only strengthens my argument.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:26 PM
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"Fraudulent memoir" should become its own genre, with its own idiosyncratic aesthetic standards. Of course, much of the critics judgment of the memoir will not be about the memoir itself, but the fraud: who the author fooled, how long, and what story were they made to swallow.

I also think the leaked celebrity sex tape should become an official genre, with critical standards. I've been meaning to do write up the basic critical groundwork, but I'm just too busy.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:28 PM
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that someone with little or no formal education who is a genius can rise above all their circumstances, if they really wanted to, and produce a work of art.

I think it's perfectly possible for this to happen, and you don't have to be a genius. Because, you know, reality is interesting, and people have interesting stories.

I think fake memoirs are much more boring, less intelligent, less illuminating than the real thing. Certainly Margaret Jones writing is tiresome and cliched compared to good participant observer books I've read that try to closely observe the same kinds of neighborhoods by just hanging out and talking to people who live there. "Talley's Corner", "There are No Children Here", "The Corner", "Gang Leader for a Day" are all totally fascinating books.

Here's an interview with Jones -- an actual uneducated gang member would have to work very hard to be this utterly vapid:

http://gawker.com/5003501/fabricating-writers-hilarious-interview


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:31 PM
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43: That said, I think that the memoir format puts prose aesthetics aside as a consideration

Depends. Of the cheap mass-market memoir like James Frey or Kaavya Viswanathan this was true, but there are also your David Rakoffs, for whom style is part of the appeal. Basically the whole opposition between "memoir" and "literary" is false; both memoirs and mainstream fiction run a gamut of quality, styles and standards.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:33 PM
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I think it's perfectly possible for this to happen, and you don't have to be a genius.

Of course it is, which is what I went on to say. But they usually don't end up being mass-produced, instantly-popular pabulum that whitey can hug himself while reading.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:34 PM
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anything false is off-putting
i like all kinds of fiction better, just can't read sci-fi anymore


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:34 PM
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53: Kaavya didn't write a memoir: it was a YA novel that she cut and pasted from someone else's YA novel.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:36 PM
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56: Right you are.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:36 PM
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if you're interested in memoir for the narrative, then it's unclear why you should be upset as to its truth or falsity

Because, even if you're in it mostly for the story, you still get engaged by the character. And, I'm claiming, being engaged by a character feels different (for many/most people) than being engaged by a human.

It is entirely possible to become emotionally attached to Ishmael. But it is nonetheless different from becoming attached to Melville, whose life in some ways tracked onto Ishmael's. I don't spend time thinking about the extra-textual life of a fictional character; I do so with memoirists.

I would note that people get upset at revisionist literary criticism - "how dare you say that Emma was queer?" While a fictional character can't be proven false, people still become attached to their own readings of that character, and don't wish them proven false. The memoir problem simply takes this phenomenon another step.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:38 PM
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58: It is entirely possible to become emotionally attached to Ishmael. But it is nonetheless different from becoming attached to Melville, whose life in some ways tracked onto Ishmael's

Although it's worth noting that there is a long, persistent history of reading characters in novels as counterparts of real-life people and engaging them on that basis. Hence Arthur Golden's source for Memoirs of a Geisha trying to sue him for misrepresenting her, because events that happened to the main character were different from what had happened to her. The memoir just simplifies this a bit.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:41 PM
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The weird "The Hand That Signed the Paper" scandal involved some debate among reviewers that revealed both that they had substantially different aesthetic standards for memoirs, and that there are some topics they regard as only acceptable if treated non-fictionally. (The author wrote a fictional sympathetic portrayal of Eastern European anti-Semitism in WWII. It was typically assumed to be based on her family history, as she was using a Ukrainian pseudonym. She was in fact an Australian child of British-Australians.) Many reviewers who had admired it as a fictionalised family history abhored it as a pure invention (sometimes but not always on moral grounds).

Both reviewers and readers look for something different in memoirs, I suppose it's the perspective of authentic experience discussed above.


Posted by: Pineapple | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:47 PM
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If I say 'it's real', I don't have to bother with character development nearly as much, and if my real experiences confirm other people's prejudices, then I'm telling it like it is.

I think the first part of this is a lot more applicable than the second. Not that the second part of it isn't there, but just feels too judgmental. Not everyone's an asshole.

I can't fathom the mindset of a hoaxster like Frey or Jones. Do you start writing this fiction thing, realize that it's shit, and turn it into a memoir because people will then buy whatever you sell? Do you start with a memoir, realize it's boring, and jazz it up? Whom can you tell the truth to? After all, for someone like Jones, the lying has to start before the first contact with the publishing world.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:50 PM
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Although it's worth noting that there is a long, persistent history of reading characters in novels as counterparts of real-life people and engaging them on that basis.

Is The Godfather more interesting for its own story, or for the truth it fictionalized?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 4:51 PM
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Ever wonder about who the people are who call up these agents and publishing companies and don't get their fake memoir published? "Yo, dawg, I'm from the streets! Ima write a book about my life, yo! It's about gangs and violence and a hard-knock life! And selling drugs! You gotta do what you gotta do, knowumsayin?" I shudder to think.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:02 PM
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62: Trick question? Answer would vary depending on the viewer.

63: I wonder more about the people at these publishing companies who get terrible novels and say, "But you know what, we could sell this as a memoir."


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:04 PM
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I can't wait till some strung out junkie drop out writes a memoir about being an affluent yuppie who recycles and feels good about themself.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:07 PM
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I think I rendered that comment incoherent by the density of grammatical errors.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:08 PM
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Because they didn't teach me grammar in the school of hard knocks.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:09 PM
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64.2: Isn't that precisely what happened with James Frey? Sorry, no room for this on the fiction list, but if it were a memoir . . .


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:10 PM
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68: Yes.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:10 PM
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It was a Montessori school of hard knocks.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:10 PM
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65 was teh funny. The ungrammatical funny!


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:11 PM
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59 comments in and nobody's mentioned reality TV? What kind of dime-store cultural criticism is this?

Very many middlebrow-y novels are very memoir-ish, books where a big part of the draw is that they are percieved to be deeply autobiographical (On The Road, famously, I would argue Middlesex, Jhumpa Lahiri -- that sort of thing) and an even more rarefied category of fiction books that get criticized for an insufficient fidelity to reality (The Things They Carried is all that comes to mind, but I just know there are more).

Unless you're captivated by literary modernism (i.e. a nerd) verisimilitude (especially emotional verisimilitude) is going to be tremendously important, and if you want a combination of readability and strong emotional truths the easiest way to get it is real things that happened to real people. Returning to reality TV, the reason it works so well is that you can create compelling drama cheaply: suspension of disbelief is assumed. That lets you get away with presenting absurd melodrama as naturalistic in a way you couldn't if people were aware of artifice.

I could write a fun memoir but not enough of my friends died tragically, and I would be hard pressed to express a frankly spiritual sense of personal growth and transformation.

This comment is just not going to be pretentious enough without a footnote*.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:11 PM
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Heebie is spinning out into Heebie-land. Keep going, Heebie! How far can you take it?


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:12 PM
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The problem with On The Road is how boring it is.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:12 PM
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65 made me laugh, but then also, there actually are a lot of memoirs by oppressed people who come to embody the values of the culture that oppresses them, which is less funny. Like Olaudah Equiano, the slave who buys his own freedom and then claims that he is now a slave to Christianity and has become an upright Englishman. It's a good book, but it fuels some of the same "What's wrong with all those other slaves who don't realize how awesome white rich people are" feeling. I dunno.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:13 PM
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This is Major Heebie to Ground Control Delightful. I've really made the grade. And the papers want to know whose shirts I wear.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:14 PM
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I read a really strange memoir last summer. Arguably better described as true crime, it was written by one of Whitey Bulger's thugs by order of the court, as a way to pay the civil suit judgment in a case filed by the families of people he'd killed. He is basically completely unrepentant an unselfaware. It's like they took the standard memoir arc and replaced the redemption with a bit more casual racism and killing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:15 PM
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74: nothing written by somebody on speed is ever boring, heebie.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:16 PM
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here actually are a lot of memoirs by oppressed people who come to embody the values of the culture that oppresses them, which is less funny.

I come from a line of serious Jewish assimilationists. (I know I've mentioned this before. But it's really weird to me how much subtle haterade my mom and Grandma can demonstrate.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:17 PM
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Harry Mathews' My Life in CIA is something I want to mention in this connexion.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:17 PM
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But it's really weird to me how much subtle haterade my mom and Grandma can demonstrate

Mmm! Milk 'n Lobster Punch!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:20 PM
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76: I can only hang with the other nerds down in mission control and marvel at your free-associative cosmic journeys.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:20 PM
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74: nothing written by somebody on speed is ever boring, heebie.

Also Bob Dylan is overrated, and having maps on the wall doesn't count as interior decorating. Now I've popped all young males' delusions.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:20 PM
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83: yes on one, it depends on two, and I damn well remember On The Road fondly.

Kerouac had a hilarious accent, you know.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:22 PM
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77: I love true crime, and a lot of thug memoirs are like that. Edward Bunker's "The Education of a Felon" is particularly good, and more morally palatable because he was more of a thief than a killer.

a lot of memoirs by oppressed people who come to embody the values of the culture that oppresses them, which is less funny.

But is it ever possible to make a distinction between the oppressing culture and the oppressed one, or to define what culture one "ought" to be loyal to. Everyone is a hybrid anyway. Is there a notion of false consciousness that comes in when you're judging literary merit?


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:24 PM
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But is it ever possible to make a distinction between the oppressing culture and the oppressed one,

I suppose this might usually be difficult. In Equiano's case, it's pretty easy, since he had a culture, and then he was kidnapped and enslaved and given a new one. (Or at least this is the story he tells; some guess that he might have been born a slave in the Caribbean, not a Nigerian prince. Again, people are acting like this difference might make it a "bad" memoir, as Bitch notes in her recent post.)


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:28 PM
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71 is most along my thinking, but with less fretting. I think the rise of reality TV and the dominance of literary memoir is a recent phenomenon, and one that deprecates the power of imagination. It's not a unique phenomenon, but has an historical ebb and flow. Our time is suspicious of invention. We don't understand that myth is distinct from lie. Accordingly, we get rolled a lot.

Oprah not only encourages reading, but she encourages reading many good books.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:28 PM
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i like Kerouac, though i've never read his books in English


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:30 PM
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I've been told that you're either a Dharma Bums person or an On the Road person. Having only read Dharma Bums, the most generous thing I can say is that I'm an On the Road person.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:35 PM
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The only memoirs I read are Unfogged comments. And blogs by Unfogged commenters. Which of you are fake?


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:36 PM
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3 to 72. Racist. And literary modernism was captivated by verisimilitude, this was one of its distinguishing traits.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:36 PM
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Dylan is NOT overrated. Damnit.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:36 PM
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90: I'm really a white woman.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:37 PM
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94

Also Bob Dylan is overrated, and having maps on the wall doesn't count as interior decorating.

PGD is correct about Dylan. And I got this poster as a gift to hang on my wall although I haven't gotten around to it yet.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:38 PM
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Oh. That sure will spice up your living room.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:41 PM
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94: Jealous. That would be an awesome poster for one's wall.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:41 PM
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The poster in 94 is more better to hang than the map of Italy that I got as a gift. And Bob Dylan is overrated to the extent that he's praised as a deity, but as a human artist he can have all the praise that fits.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:42 PM
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96 comes from someone who has a whiteboard with dissertation notes on it as the main visual stimulation in her apartment.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:42 PM
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96: Yeah, but you find some guy stumbling through German philosophy tittilating.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:43 PM
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"The poster in 94 is more better to hang" is not an invitation to lynch ogged.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:43 PM
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You're too good to me.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:44 PM
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Speaking of memoirs and Mr. Dylan, "Chronicles" was really good.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:45 PM
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A designer friend of mine has the very poster in 94 hanging on her wall; it is indeed a handsome addition to one's decor.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 5:52 PM
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I have the poster as well. It's sitting with a small tub of Yemeni frankincense, Cala's bottle of vanilla rum and Hilzoy's little bag of polished obsidian on the shelf of gifts not yet given.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 6:00 PM
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Actually, I'm on hold with an airline. It's the perfect time to wrap Hilzoy's stones.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 6:02 PM
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Well shit, people, time to add that poster to Stuff White People Like.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 6:03 PM
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I'm putting on make-up and telling men gently that they are misogynistic. And feeling good about recycling.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 6:04 PM
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Time to add that poster to Stuffy White People Like. (Zing!)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 6:05 PM
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More inflammatory: Stuff That's Like White People.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 6:08 PM
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Marshmellows are like white people!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 6:10 PM
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They should be called Harshmellows.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 6:11 PM
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Or Rorschashmellows.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 6:15 PM
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I'm putting on make-up and telling men gently that they are misogynistic.

I find this image sexy for some reason.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 6:17 PM
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104: Where's my qat, dammit??


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 6:19 PM
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Cot damn!


Posted by: Pusha T | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 6:20 PM
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116

113: Are you aroused by the image of a beautiful, powerful woman in general, the kind who can wear makeup and speak truth to power, or are you specifically turned on by the idea that a femme woman would call you personally a misogynist?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 6:22 PM
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114 -- It's a Schedule I substance. If I had some here in my office waiting for you, you think I'd be saying so on the Internet?


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 6:30 PM
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White People like Edward Tufte. White people also like PowerPoint. PARADOX!

Luckily, white people like those, too.

91: I don't see color. That's why I missed it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 6:31 PM
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Unlike white people, there's no E in marshmallow.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 6:32 PM
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117: holy crap I had no idea this Nápi gift train worked like that!

I'd like some Blackstrap Heroin from Afghanistan, please!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 6:33 PM
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119: there's white people in marshmallow?

Soylent Green 2: Jet Puffed!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 6:34 PM
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117: Ooooh. Right. Of course not. No.

(Thanks, man!)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 6:36 PM
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You don't think that there's a quality of straightforwardness largely absent from current literary fiction?

I don't buy this for a second. First, as I mentioned over there, Yglesias doesn't really know what he's talking about when it comes to literary history or fiction. Second, the category of "literary fiction" is little more than a whipping boy at this point. I've been on a Hanif Kureishi kick of late, and there's nothing un-straightforward about it. It's direct and wrenching. I think people overestimate the influence of Eggers on the literary scene ... or they assume that there's nothing but more cleverness beneath Foster Wallace's cleverness, when, as Brief Interviews with Hideous Men and Oblivious made plain, the sentimental current running through Infinite Jest was no accident.

And ... breathe.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 6:39 PM
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116: All of it. Lingerie, a vanity mirror, a confident, powerful yet feminine voice gently murmering about misogyny...


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 6:45 PM
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123: but c'mon (inhales) isn't there a strata between (say) Middlesex and genre fiction where people are interested in straightforwardly told stories without big words or confusing sentence structures, and yet would feel kind of stupid reading Richard North Patterson or some romance novel?

(blue, fainting)

Oh, breathe.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 6:53 PM
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isn't there a strata between (say) Middlesex and genre fiction

This is commonly called "the bulk of mainstream fiction."


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 7:02 PM
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Really? It's that bad?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 7:08 PM
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This is commonly called "the bulk of mainstream fiction."

This would be stuff like the book linked in 123? Does all of it have covers that look like gay porn, or just most?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 7:18 PM
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127: I adhere to the "90% of most things are crap" rule. There are of course books that stand out from the pack, sometimes on merit and sometimes on hype. These tend to be the "literary fiction" whipping boys and girls that SEK mentioned, much of the whipping coming from fans or writers of the genre fiction of which 92% is crap.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 7:26 PM
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128: No, Kureishi is liked by critics and is therefore literary, arty and abstruse. Don't know the numbers on gay porn covers though, there should probably be more.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 7:38 PM
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125: You laugh, but for some reason I held my breath and typed faster than I have since seventh grade writing that comment.

Thing is, I think most literary fiction fills the gap between Middlesex and Grisham. Even the more fantastic stuff -- the Lethems and Chabons -- are conventional narratives with conventional flashbacks and easily visible signposts marking every shift. Sure, there's Against the Day, but as much as I love Pynchon, I had a hard time finishing it. (Did inspire em to re-read GR, though.) Point being, just as "postmodern" has become a general term of opprobrium for anything complicated, "literary fiction" has become a general term for anything -- all of it horrible -- between Pynchon and Clancy.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 7:42 PM
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No, Kureishi is liked by critics and is therefore literary, arty and abstruse.

Figures. Very pious name, too.

Don't know the numbers on gay porn covers though, there should probably be more.

Anyone else know?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 7:43 PM
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Hanif Kureishi is clearly hitting somebody's nail on the head, because he could write you directions to the jiffy lube and it would not only be made into a movie, but into a good one.

Still, I'd gamble that anything he does is vastly outsold by equivalent memoirs, if you'll permit such an equivalence.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 7:45 PM
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130: No, Kureishi is liked by critics and is therefore literary, arty and abstruse.

Only, not arty at all and painfully transparent. Also, I didn't realize that was a picture of a boy on the cover of Intimacy. I'm only halfway through it, but I'm not sure why that would, except for an off-hand description of a gay friend that sounds more Silverlake than Sheffield:

Sometimes he fucked five people in a day, shoving his arm up to the elbow into men whose faces he never saw.*

*Yes, the narrator's a cad.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 7:46 PM
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133: Christ, I hadn't even made that connection. (Teach me to check out library books with no covers.) When I fell for Kureishi, little did I know I already loved him.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 7:48 PM
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Only, not arty at all and painfully transparent.

Preee-cisely.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 7:48 PM
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Preee-cisely.

I'm a little slow tonight.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 7:51 PM
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shoving his arm up to the elbow

Wow. I'd ask if this was even anatomically feasible, but I fear the apostropher link that would result.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 7:55 PM
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I love those of Kureishi's films I've seen (and I seem to have seen those twice).


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 7:56 PM
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138: where is apostropher, anyhow?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:00 PM
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Uh oh! Somebody lost his keys!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:01 PM
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140: I'm sure that'll do til he arrives! Yikes.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:01 PM
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140: That looks like the middle of the forearm at most.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:03 PM
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See, this is the problem with American readers. I quote a passage in a work of lit-ra-ture and all you rubes can talk about is fisting.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:05 PM
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I quote a passage in a work of lit-ra-ture and all you rubes can talk about is fisting.

Note how SEK carefully elides the fact that the passage in question was about fisting.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:07 PM
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It's a metaphor, teo. It's not like the next line is:

Every night of the week there were orgies he might attend.

Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:11 PM
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146: sounds dangerous.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:14 PM
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I had the honor to hear Hanif Kureishi give an introduction to one of his films a few years ago. It was all I could do to restrain myself from running down to the podium and slavering him with fanboy praises.

My favorite part of his Wikipedia entry:
"This article or section may contain an inappropriate mixture of prose and timeline."

Harsh!


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:14 PM
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Alright, most of my friends out here are gay, so I know this isn't unusual, but really, when you attend parties that provides "buckets of sex toys," you know you're living the good life. (Just try not to lean too much on balconies.)


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:16 PM
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I prefer books by dead people. They can't give rote book tour interviews that make their work less interesting.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:16 PM
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I'm glad that my Kureishi fascination is shared by others. I take it y'all are also fans of the genre my wife refers to as "Families Falling Apart"? Squid and the Whale Anyone? The Baumbach's generally?


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:18 PM
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Although B's claim (possibly m.'s as well) on her blog was that the writing was [likely to be] good, and that if she was good enough to succeed with a faux memoir [need a pithy term here], then she will succeed otherwise.

Yeah, they were wrong on that count.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:19 PM
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If someone assigned you to teach masterpieces of fiction from this decade, preferably written in English, what would have to be on the syllabus? Discuss. I'm taking notes (for personal pleasure, not because I've been assigned such a course).

I ask, just because some of the best courses I've taken have been "decade" classes, and it's really easy for me to think of way too many masterpieces of fiction in every decade from the 1720s (at least) straight on through the 1990s. But I've been really out of it for the past ten years, haven't read much great literature from the past ten at all. Just cussedness, I suppose.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:21 PM
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||

Hooray, the result of my very own request for this year's Yo La Tengo Murders the Classics is available in video format.

|>


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:21 PM
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Wiki: Kureishi was born in London to a Pakistani father and an English mother. His father, Rafiushan, was from a wealthy Madras family, most of whose members moved to Pakistan after the Partition of India in 1947. He came to Britain to study law but soon abandoned his studies. After meeting and marrying Kureishi's mother Audrey, he settled in Bromley, where Kureishi was born and worked at the Pakistan Embassy.

I love the pronoun reference. Why did Kureishi marry his mother Audrey? Why did Kureisha have to go to work at the Pakistan Embassy after he was born? Pakis are effing strange people.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:23 PM
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149: The parties I go to are all "bring your own bucket." What a gyp.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:23 PM
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147: "the normally flamboyant Count von Bismarck"


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:28 PM
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Just try not to lean too much on balconies.

And keep your consumption of cocaine to a moderate level.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:28 PM
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If someone assigned you to teach masterpieces of fiction from this decade, preferably written in English, what would have to be on the syllabus?

I'm not super up on stuff that recent, but I would want to include something by David Mitchell. Cloud Atlas is far more pyrotechnic, and more stylistically notable, but Black Swan Green was awfully fantastic.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:29 PM
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The BBC TV version of Buddha of Suburbia is really good.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:30 PM
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Ooh! I'd heard BSG was excellent, and put it on my list to read after I saw someone very engrossed in it on the subway yesterday.

Tonight I was on the subway making faces of delight and horror at Charles Brockden Brown's Wieland, which I'm teaching tomorrow (and am obsessed with). 200 years too old for my proposed class. Soooooo good.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:32 PM
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Pakis

That's a slur, and best avoided.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:33 PM
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The Count himself later met a similarly untimely end. Gawker wept.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:33 PM
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but Black Swan Green was awfully fantastic.

But~! The Taint~! Of Memoir~!

No, I've heard fantastic things about it, but my favorite book of the past decade-ish is probably Banville's Kepler. Difficult to describe, but utterly brilliant.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:35 PM
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151: I take it y'all are also fans of the genre my wife refers to as "Families Falling Apart"?

Three words, my friend: Nil. By. Mouth.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 8:35 PM
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FYI, Oud, you want to eat qat that was picked only a few hours before. People go out and buy a fresh bag every day. (Think a plastic grocery bag with enough stems & leaves that if you wrapped it up, you'd have a bundle the size of a well stuffed burrito -- that'll do for an afternoon).


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 9:11 PM
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The burrito... makes you stoned?

Africans are geniuses!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 9:14 PM
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It is probably a mistake for me to think that Black Swan Green has anything to do with Henry Green.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 5-08 9:47 PM
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151: Baumbach will be writing the screenplay (and maybe directing, too?) of Claire Messud's The Emperor's Children. Which makes perfect sense.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 6-08 10:07 AM
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