Monday, March 13, 2017

Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir by Lauren Slater

I read Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir by Lauren Slater because TJC told me to after I should in my discussion about what Devil in the White City was nonsense.

And, frankly, I thought this book was nonsense, too. Why was it shelved in non-fiction when the narrator starts by telling us she's a total unreliable narrator? In 2017, a time when we use the term "alternative facts" like that's a fucking thing, this entire thing made me want to scream.

Let me back up. Slater writes this "memoir" about her experiences as a person who may or may not have epilepsy or other health conditions, but certainly has a problem with truth telling. She uses the frame that many patients with epilepsy are compulsive liars (which explains so much of my childhood, my friends) to get you to walk with her through a chronology of her life in which she shares many tales and embellishments and you, as the reader, are supposed to glean from this something. I don't know what. In the end, it turns out she may or may not have epilepsy, but for sure she lies.

Look, I get it. I get creative non-fiction and that there are stories that blur lines. But then shelve it under fiction.  Yes, there are times when you can experience the same event at the same time as someone else and have a different rendering of that event. Yes, we went to that Garth Brooks concert and you thought the "Shameless" performance was better than the "That Summer" performance and I disagree. That's fine. Your opinion can be different from mine. But Brooks played both those songs. That's a FACT that can't be changed.  And shit like this just keeps blurring the line between fact and opinion and I am just not on board with that in the political climate of 2017.

Did she have a seizure? Did she get diagnosed as an epileptic? Those are facts I'd like to know.

How did she feel when she had a seizure? How did she interpret her parents' reactions to the seizures and how their treatment of her changed? Those are thoughts and emotions that have no right or wrong answer. And I get that memoirs can include both fact and emotions/reactions, but this was not a memoir. It was a story based on the novelist's life without actually being the novelist's life.

And the writing was clumsy and awkward and full of someone winkingly breaking the rules of grammar to be cute and it just wasn't cute at all.

But.

I finished this book weeks ago and I keep thinking about it. Yes, I get hepped up whenever I think about it, but isn't the point of literature to rouse you? 

3 comments:

  1. I...I think we might not want to recommend books to each other. I think this book is brilliant. The fault of memory and the fact that we often think something happened a certain way when it did not (or could not) is something I deal with quite a bit, particularly surrounding my sister's accident. I have always been fascinated by the memories we cling to. Memory and fact are not the same thing, and to me that's what this book is exploring.

    I don't have time to type much more, but I would call it a memoir. All memoirs are skewed toward the perspective of the author. I bet we just don't hear about any of their relatives calling bullshit. But it happens. That is the very nature of memory, that it is never truly factual. Anyway, that's my opinion on the matter. :)

    And alternative facts that a government tries to skew and personal memories that aren't quite factual are just different things. But eventually, both get called out.

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