January 19, 2006

Joining the Fray

Two fine bloggers have been discussing how fiction and reality bounce off each other in art. Reality shows are an extreme example of a diluted/deluded reality, but some things can build on reality without being emotionally manipulative. R. Crumb uses autobiography because it feels more real to audiences when the artist and narrator are integrated. Same with many good singer-songwriters.

Alex Ross's problem with with James Frey is that an essential truth was favored over a literal truth. The real problem is not in this shift in balance, but in the ultimate quality of the essential truth (which at least one analyst found quite damaging). Of course, the issue with my example is that Crumb's literal truths should not be taken at face value either. No one writes an autobiography without making choices about what they leave in and what gets taken out. For Crumb, however, the value of his essential truths outweighs any vagaries in the literal ones.

Also, an addict's memoir that wasn't quite an addict's memoir? Whoda thunk.

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