FROM JAMES FREY TO MIKE DAISEY the issue of truth in nonfiction continues to be a source of angst, perturbation, inquiry, fun, argument, and discussion. Here a few authors have a quick say, in a series of LARB One-Minute Films, by novelists Aimee Bender and Janet Fitch, and four wrtiers who work in both fiction and nonftiction: Laila Lalami, Mark Haskell Smith, Paul Mandelbaum, and Seth Greenland.
Some find the argument that fidelity to fact is the essence of nonfiction, including the memoir, to be an impossible and perhaps uninteresting goal; some, like Seth Greenland, find our culture’s inability to agree on the solidity of fact to be a sign of the apocalypse.
Among the recent books on the subject, the one that has caused the most recent hubbub is The Lifespan of a Fact by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal; a couple years ago it was Reality Hunger by David Shields. We have links reviews of these books in the right column.
Music on all videos: Performed by Tom McDermott, Courtesy of Bananastan Records and Van Dyke Parks