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« Margaret Jones' Diaries: today in Liarland | Main | News from the delta »

March 07, 2008

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kanani

I think you and Ex Pat Jane have covered what this says about race and cultural expectation within the publishing world. My sense is that everyone wanted to believe her because to show doubt would signify racism. When I listened to the most painful 35 minute interview on NPR with Seltzer-Jones, I was struck at how the interviewer kept shoving thoughts at the author. Seltzer-Jones also managed to deflect questions by making long rambling statements, which made little sense.

Perhaps the weirdest champions of Jones are some writers who say, "Well, she wouldn't have gotten it published as novel, so she had to make it a memoir," "don't we all make things up about ourselves?" and "fiction is dead." I find the lack of concern amongst writers who are working on first time novels to not only be loathesome, but worrisome as I ponder how many of the facts in their own books won't even be double checked by themselves.

nishani frazier

Thanks for the talk up! You should have seen what my comments first looked like (smile). At any rate, I'll give my last two cents on this subject.

There is a total and complete absence of mental grasp about the deep-seated nuance of race/racism throughout the events surrounding this book (I havent even added how her "Native-American-ness" plays a role in the invention of this story). Even if you engaged the more abstract notions of life-story as fiction/lie or memoir, it obscures several points. One, memoir and fiction are designated as two separate genres. Two, if the lines are so blurry at what point do you determine when someone is simply a liar? Three (this is the historian speaking), all memoirs/real life accounts are held up to standards of verification and validation not like with a fictional work. Events to which someone refers should - for the most part be verifiable. Do people embellish---certainly, but the core of the story remains true. At its heart -- a memoir is the basic outline of events and the essence of your life's story written in 300 pages or less. Either she was in foster care or she wasnt, had black siblings or she didnt, a drug runner or not, a gang member or not. The embellishment in between is not what would have made her a liar.

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