Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Self-Made Man: How Stephen Elliott Writes His Life - Ashwin Seshagiri - Entertainment - The Atlantic:

Critics, including his father, have drawn parallels to James Frey's A Million Little Pieces, the memoir of addiction that landed on Oprah's book club. The book later drew controversy when it was discovered to be largely fictionalized.

As long as people have been telling stories of the past, there has been a tension between what people remember and what really occurred. This American Life listeners were reminded of that after Mike Daisey's story of the Foxconn factory in China. For Elliott, who uses fiction to explore the material of his own memories, this tension is exaggerated by the shocking nature of his work and the frequency with which he so openly talks about the traumatic events of his childhood. The tension is further magnified each time his father disputes one his stories.

"I don't know the year or make of the car," Elliott responded when asked again about the time his dad taught him how to drive. "That's not important. There's a handful of facts in the world, but they are dwarfed by interpretation and memory. A lie requires intent. "