Archive for 2012
Lots of nice things have happened this week. Thanks to Christi Craig’s lovely blog, I won a giveaway copy of Shann Ray’s American Masculine, which I’ve been meaning to read for months. I finalized and submitted a panel proposal for the 2013 Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference. I spent an energizing 90 minutes with a fantastic group of college students who are taking a seminar on “Representing the Holocaust.” I finished preparing the May newsletter (it should go out Sunday or Monday after one last round of proofreading). And I discovered a new reader review of Quiet Americans on Amazon that frankly blew me away with its on-targetness (I think I just made up a word).
I was especially moved because this reader picked up on something I talked about at length during the classroom visit: the broad applicability of one of the notable German words in one of the stories: Vergangenheitsbewältigung (“coming to terms with the past”). That we’ve just concluded the observance of Yom HaShoah makes the subject–and the review and the visit–even more meaningful.
“You work with what is given to you. You arrange the puzzle pieces taken from the nonfiction box without reaching over into the fiction box, as tempting as it may be. You do your best to pull up honest memory. Though we know memory’s weakness, at least don’t lie about what you think you remember. When you are not sure, you tell the reader. When you want to change something, explore why you want to change it. Fiction approaches a certain sort of truth, and thank goodness we have fiction, but it is not the same truth that nonfiction attempts. Know the difference. As a nonfiction writer, you will surely make mistakes, get things wrong, remember poorly, but to do it knowingly, that’s crossing the line.”
Source: Dinty W. Moore, “What is Given: Against Knowingly Changing the Truth,” part of a worthy exchange with Jill Talbot on the Brevity blog.