Yet every fiction writer bases characters on real people. Memoirists and nonfiction writers identify people by name. How can writers use real people in their work without risking a lawsuit? First, a simple rule.
Jamison stood nearby, bouncing her napping baby while we talked about the memoir weeks ahead of publication. The book, an amalgam of addiction memoir, literary criticism, biography and cultural history, grapples with alcoholism and rehabilitation in large part through the lens of her own experience.
Jamison saw it differently. What is shared between two people or things, and what sets them apart? She tests her answers against firm poles.
Often, as in her latest book, these explorations are guided by her personal experience; her life provides grist for the constant churn of questions.
Jamison is one of the current doyennes of the personal essay; her collection The Empathy Exams became a surprise best-seller in She has released The Recovering, a book that both questions and unselfconsciously embraces memoir, into a literary world that seems more skeptical than ever of confessional writing.
Many critics today are rightly suspicious of the profusion of undercooked, self-aggrandizing personal essays that are long on details and opinions but short on introspection and insight. She critiqued these essays as a form of navel-gazing that the election revealed as frivolous distractions from the real stories to be found in hard news.
And though, she emphasized, not every personal essay is good, she blames that on the execution, not the subject matter. But I think of any life, if you ask rigorous questions and keep following them into more and more layers of nuance and complexity, I think you can arrive at any number of interesting insights.
Jamison also treats the form with some skepticism. Then again, we often read about other people because we see ourselves in them, or because we relate to their experiences. Where do we diverge? This all might sound wishy-washy, a way of waving away the distinctions between good and bad, selfish and generous, thoughtful and thoughtless.
Instead, she puts herself in dialogue with other alcoholics, the better to highlight the small, ugly and solipsistic parts of the story. But next to her story are other stories, stories drawn from reporting, from the lives of literary figures like Elizabeth Bishop and Raymond Carver, from their art, and from the history of health policy and public messaging around addiction.
None of this is tender or wholesome. Even the recoveries are written with raw, bleak determination, urgent despite the repetitious nature of healthy living. Jamison has long been fascinated by suffering. In her first book, a novel called The Gin Closet, she tells the story of a broken family and a reclusive alcoholic.
The Empathy Exams prods at this fascination; she explores how we write about pain and violence, how we try to understand it, how we experience it. Throughout the book, Jamison is consumed by the last question.
Having long idealized the tragic romance of hard-drinking geniuses like Berryman, Denis Johnson and Carver, and the gripping art that arose from their self-destruction, she struggles to see how her writing could continue after giving up drinking.
She always wanted to have the most interesting story. In the book, she recalls standing up to tell her story in a meeting for the first time, poised to accept praise for her exceptionally well-told tale. In the literary world, this quality remains suspect. Your life might be uneventful on its face, but can you ask rigorous, unflinching questions about it?
Can you closely interrogate your choices as a human and as a narrator? Her job was simply to read the submissions and rate them on a scale. I would read something trite and second-guess myself.The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts is a book written by Chinese American author Maxine Hong Kingston and published by Alfred A.
Knopf in The book blends autobiography with what Kingston purports to be old Chinese folktales, although several scholars have questioned the accuracy and authenticity of these folktales..
The Woman Warrior won the National Book Critics .
Books shelved as fictional-memoir: Freaks I've Met by Donald Jans, A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, Let Me Off at the Top!: My Classy Life and Othe.
Fictionalized memoirs are different from standard memoirs because of the inclusion of fiction or fictional writing techniques.
If the names or places of a memoir are changed to protect those involved, then this would be classified as a fictionalized memoir. In both cases, the author includes tidbits about his or her life.
The difference is to what extent. Fictionalized autobiographies are mostly a truthful telling of the author’s experience with sections fictionalized to “protect the innocent”, filling gaps where memory fails, and occasionally rearranging events for maximum narrative effect.
Should you write a memoir, or write a novel "based on a true story"? Here, Joan Jackson offers four advantages to fictionlizing the truth. Find all the books, read about the author, and more.