Truthfulness In Memoir

Submitted By KyleMcgarrh1
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Pages: 4

Truthfulness in Memoirs

When choosing memoirs, readers expect to learn about the truthful events of the authors past experiences, but at times authors tend to alter details to make their writing appeal to those who want to connect with it. Many people question as to whether it is right or wrong to bend the truth of a memoir, however many also think it could go both ways. A memoirist’s commitment should be the truth, but the truth can sometimes be sacrificed for more interesting story telling.

All the publishing companies who debate whether or not a memoir should be sent out to the public or not, should acknowledge the fact that an author’s memoir strictly came from their memory and personal experiences, so there might be subjective truth. The author, James Frey, wrote about his recovery from being a drug addict and alcoholic, but was accused of lying to the public even though he did state that it was his truth and it was genuine. Frey isn’t the first memoirist to have embellished his writing to appeal to the reader and “script his narrative” (Tobias Wolfe).

The exaggeration of some of the details in memoirs has brought many questions to the public. The author Judy Blunt, who won an award for “Breaking Clean”, which told the story about her three small children who were caught in the middle of a harsh situation at her Husband's Montana Ranch, had admitted she made up some of the events in her story. She claimed that her narration of a traumatic or life-changing event isn’t created in the actual event. It’s created in hindsight as you try to make sense of what happened, and like good storytellers, you amplify some things and recede others through a quiet sleight of hand by embellishing it. Judy Blunt says, “Just write your truth, and be as accurate as you can. After all, a memoir is about memory, not just facts.” (Naselli). It should not be considered “wrong” for an author to elaborate some of the details in their writing. It's up to the readers to be affected by it or not. James Frey shouldn’t have lied in his book, “A Million Little Pieces”. In 2005 James Frey published a book “A Million Little Pieces” as a memoir; it should have been published as fiction. In “The Right Stuff” by Tom Wolfe it tells a true memoir about astronauts who pioneered America’s space program. The following excerpt is from a book that provides guidance to writers of memoirs. “I think of Tom Wolfe’s book The Right Stuff, an account of the astronauts, who pioneered America’s space program. Wolfe’s reporting throughout is solid; he hasn’t embellished the facts” (Zinsser). “In A Million Little Pieces “James Frey lied about a few accounts that took place in his book. He said ““I never expected the book to become as successful as it has.”” Some people can agree with him to some extent.