Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Makes You Wonder Just What Nonfiction Really Is, Doesn't It?

Oz and Ends had a nice little discussion going on The Idea That the Story Is True versus, say, it's really being true. It's kind of a mind-boggling concept.

The article J.L. Bell links to includes the following quote: "Mezrich's response to these specifics is to say that everything he describes is accurate, only that it didn't necessarily happen to the people, in the places, or at the times it occurs in the book."

Ah...define "accurate."

Come on, if a writer is going to do this kind of thing, why not just use the material in a piece of really good fiction?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I ended up writing a critical thesis on accuracy in picture book biographies and this problem of what I originally called "authenticity," where the information takes on the appearance of being true but isn't, is actually more common than imagined.

Best example is "Elanor and Amelia Go For A Ride" by Pam Munoz Ryan where the first half of the book is mostly documentable, the last half is fiction, and the parts that are true might not have happened in the order in which they are presented. In this case the illustrations supported and "documented" events that a young reader would accept as factual though, again, there is no evidence to back them up. A young reader would read this book, understand that both Elanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart were real people, and assume the book was true.

There are liberties taken with biography in children's books that would not stand in the adult world of non-fiction. You would think it was the other way around.