Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Reality Fiction and Fantasy Memoirs

Some interesting recent twists in the saga of fiction versus fact. Apparently, celebrity novels are selling better than celebrity memoirs, since people know that under the guise of fiction celebrities can spill far more beans.

While this may seem to indicate the power of fiction over fact, what it really implies is that people are reading fiction as fact, and therefore for the wrong sort of truth.

As a result, the veil of fiction is no longer in any case protecting authors and their work. As I wrote last week, I have had my own problems with this and with people questioning my authorship and thus the 'authenticity ' of my work. The current row in France, in which novelist Marie Darrieussecq has been accused by Camille Laurens of plagiarising in her latest novel Lauren's own experience, is similarly symptomatic of this leakage between fact and fiction. While Laurens' experience was detailed in her 1995 memoir, it is interesting to note that it is the experience, not the words, which Darrieuseq is accused of filching, just as, if I had turned out to be a man as my feminist publishers suspected, then I would have been guilty in their eyes of stealing 'women's experience'.

As the Guardian's Richard Lea points out, you can't steal experience, unless empathy and imagination constitute stealing, though you suspect with a sinking heart that in this topsy-turvy media world of fantasy and 'reality' they do.
Post a Comment