Quotation of the Week: Allegra Goodman

As I mentioned on my other blog awhile back, I’ve been looking forward to reading Allegra Goodman‘s new novel, The Cookbook Collector. I pre-ordered a copy and finally began reading on Sunday evening. So far, so great!

Last week, my mom and I attended a terrific literary event here in New York that featured Allegra and novelist Cathleen Schine in conversation with Sandee Brawarsky, book critic for the New York Jewish Week. At one point, Allegra offered the following comment about something that she sees as a real plus of novel-writing:

“Your work can be intensely personal without being autobiographical.”

So true! So important! So under-appreciated!

The degree of interest readers show in the autobiographical elements of fiction never fails to amaze me. Admittedly, I’ve been guilty of this interest as a reader, too. But I hope that my crimes are fewer and further between now that I have some experience as a fiction writer myself.

In truth, there are pieces of “me” in all of my fiction, even if I may be the only one who can pinpoint each of them. And the characters that might outwardly resemble “me”–one example comes to mind from a story workshopped long ago; several classmates told me they were convinced that one character in that story was, in fact, me, thinly disguised–can be the ones furthest from my own experience.