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Truth or Consequences: What makes our stories true?


Truth or Consequences: What makes our stories true?


“At the end of the day you wouldn’t bother reading a memoir if it wasn’t interesting. Essentially a reader wants a good story. James Frey wrote a good yarn with really striking descriptions which gripped a lot of people. ‘Truth’ is subjective.People’s memories of real events are always dodgy because they are coloured by their own view of things. Plus as time goes by you remember and camp up the facts that you want to remember and forget others. So who could write a genuinely accurate account of what happens in their life?” —Dan (2008-02-15 11:57:51) http://www.james-frey.com/debate

In April 2003 a million little pieces by James Frey was published in US by Doubleday.  The book chronicled his addiction and recovery.  In 2006 The Smoking Gun website publishes the article: “A Million Little Lies: Exposing James Frey’s Fiction Addiction”. Frey admits to some creative license with aspects of his story.

Just recently the author of "Love and Consequences," a critically acclaimed autobiography about growing up among gangbangers in South Los Angeles, acknowledged that she made up everything in her just-published book.

What is going on here?  One author writes his memoir changing names and events conflating or inflating things for the sake of the story.  Another just makes the whole thing up.

In his wonderful book, Writing About Your Life: A Journey into the Past, William Zinsser asks us to tell the truth in our stories.  Even if we must edit, refine or collapse timeframes we should stay true to the essence of who we are. 

Where are you with your life story? Have you stalled at childhood? Are you afraid to write out the details of a bad marriage? 

#howto, #memoir, #storytelling, #truthtelling #lifestory 

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