Monday, July 25, 2011

Autobiographical Fiction or Fictional Autobiography

This relates to my post yesterday…

Here’s what Jeffrey Eugenides had to say about the whole fiction/autobiography conundrum in a recent New Yorker Q&A (he has a story called “Asleep in the Lord” in the summer fiction issue):

“I’m ashamed to say that ‘Asleep in the Lord’ is the most autobiographical thing I’ve ever written. Ashamed because I don’t especially prize autobiographical writing (why write fiction if you want to talk about yourself?) and also because it took me so long to figure out how to do it. The difficulty of writing autobiographical fiction, for me, at least, is that you feel compelled to be faithful to your memory, and so you end up putting in characters and scenes that you don’t need. Almost everything I’ve ever written, and especially “Middlesex,” is made up. Here, it was different. I began trying to write about these events at the time I was experiencing them, way back in 1982. I tried again many times over the years. The Talk of the Town piece, in 1997, represented another small attempt.

“I could never get it right, though. In trying to be true to my experience, I ended up replicating the inartfulness of real life rather than creating a narrative with its own coherence and patterning. Finally, after thirty years (!), I managed to get enough distance on the events to able to chuck out a lot of ‘what really happened’ and write the story. So, while ‘Asleep in the Lord’ remains autobiographical in nature, it’s no longer burdened by too great a fidelity to the actual.”

Sunday, July 24, 2011

New Story at Metazen: "A Brief Survey"

You can make the argument that all fiction is autobiographical -- that is, a fiction writer puts his or her own thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc., into the characters and situations he or she creates on the page.

But I've never considered myself an autobiographical writer. Sure, things pop up that can be traced to my life (character names, certain events), but I've always steered clear of basing my fiction on what has happened in my life. I'm more of a "I like to make stuff up" writer vs. a "write what you know" writer.


My story "A Brief Survey" (published by Metazen) is the most autobiographical story I've ever written. In fact, it might not even be called fiction.

The narrator is me; the scenes and emotions are straight from the past few years, during which it's seemed as if someone was sick or dying or being diagnosed with an illness every other month; and the part from the notebook is an almost verbatim of what I wrote right before and after my father died.

I'm not sure how it feels yet, to have something so "me" out in the world. But it seemed like a story that needed to be told. I only hope that I told it well...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New Look

I spent some time last night tinkering with the look of this blog. Still not sure what I think.

I'm also thinking about switching over to WordPress (instead of using Blogger).

Updates/posts have been pretty minimal, I know.

I've been trying to stay focused on finishing my novel Believers. Sometimes that feels close, sometimes far away. Today it feels... somewhere in between.

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Head Is for Looking

More random quotes from my six-year-old son Ethan...

"The mall is so cool. The mall is everything."

"Oh stop it you chicken tender."

"Your head is for banging nails. My head is for looking."

"Han Solo is a loser."

"What if my whole name was Ethan Commander Roe?"

"Don't put it on Facebook."

"I love Star Wars bigger than this house."

"You don't memorize. I memorize."

"Star Wars is freaking me out."

"Put it on Facebook."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"Accident" in The Sun

My story "Accident" (which is an excerpt from my novel-in-progress Believers) is in this month's issue of The Sun.

You can read the first part of the story here.

I'm so honored and thrilled to have a story in The Sun. Still pinching myself. Pinch, pinch.

And tonight I'm headed up to L.A. for the New Short Fiction Series/Annenberg Foundation event featuring my story "My Status." A good day!