Blurred lines of fact versus fiction

I have to say after reading these some of these memoirs and personal essays I felt a lot better about approaching and continuing as well as making insights  with my own essay on lies. Beginning with Hampl’s Memory and Imagination I began to realize how ironic it was that in my essay about lying there is a large possibility that parts of descriptions were unintentional lies. When I was recalling upon my past I felt a sort of passion toward remembering specific details. Although, much like Hampl said, we have an affinity for recalling specific memories over others how could I picture the toy so clearly in my head? One answer says that certain memories demanded a larger amount of our attention and therefore brought a level of clarity. More likely it’s that I don’t actually remember what that insignificant toy looked like, but rather filled in the spaces to do the memory justice. I listened to the false facts of the original memoir and began to realize just how easy it is to drift into a tangent and lose yourself in the story, whether it’s padded with fake details or completely valid.

Nester continues with his opening description of Frey as “the infamous lying memoirist”. This opens up the idea of a memoir being the writer’s own perception of their experiences rather than an autobiography based on stone cold facts. Nester unravels the fabricated best seller that Frey created. In an interview Frey talks about his process when it comes to writing. He doesn’t self-edit or go back and reread his work. This is where you begin to see how his work may snowball into a larger lie then he intended to create. Spider webs of words he is producing without editing can lead to stories he didn’t realize he’d be tangled up in. It’s the confusion of autobiography which is assumed to be based on fact versus memoir which is an account of your own story, therefore filled with opinions. If we were strictly to record facts that were dated and sourced about our lives think of the limitations we put on such writing. We would all be imitating from other stories that could be rightfully cited. Even in Oprah’s own autobiography she may call upon things she can be incorrectly detailing or filling in memories unintentionally. The memory is as unstable a place as the imagination and everything in it is subject to distortion. Writing something in the genre of fiction takes away a sense of passion in the writing. To the writer that story is coming from somewhere, it is real in a sense and it comes to life as they share it. So it only makes sense that if a memoir is being written and the main character is therefore themselves that they should be allowed room for their character to grow. If they wanted to characterize their story as a factual autobiography they could put sources on it for background checks to give it more compelling support, but beyond that I must agree with Gornick in saying that a memoir is its own genre besides the self-reporting facts of journalism.

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1 Response to Blurred lines of fact versus fiction

  1. I really liked your response to the readings on Imagination and Memory. You used the words,”The memory is as unstable a place as the imagination and everything in it is subject to distortion”: I thought this was very insightful and true according to what we learned in this week’s readings. Also, I thought that your final paragraph really highlighted the problem. Should we have to cite and provide support for the things we write in a memoir? I would have to agree with you that this would both not be appropriate and be very limiting to the writer’s ability to convey a message. You observed that a memoir is a genre within itself, and that perhaps should allow a certain degree of fabrication. I feel that writers may be able to avoid criticism for fabricating some of their memoirs if they make it clear that it is only their perspective on past events, and that some events have been created in order to piece together the incomplete memories.

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