Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Is Fiction Enough?

Fay Weldon thinks fiction is not enough. Her book Mantrapped is part fiction, part memoir, and she thinks that this is the 'way things are going to go.' She began it fully intending to write a work of pure fiction, but it started to feel invidious, dishonest to leave herself out of the book.

Interesting. That was always a big concern of feminist writers, of course: the ultimate fakery of the omniscient authorial viewpoint and the colonization involved in adopting a fictional narrative voice. And of course she's not the only one to play games with autobiography in fiction - look at Philip Roth, look at the serious mixings of Sebald in Austerlitz.

But I think these mixings make for a meta-reality - an exciting one - in which the whole concept of autobiography is brought into question, indeed at times consciously mocked, for essentially we read fiction differently from the way we read memoir. It's rather different, I think, when you start claiming bits of your book to be autobiography.
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