Tuesday, March 31, 2009

“Lying" by Lauren Slater

Instead of an in depth analysis, I’d like to restrict my blog on Lauren Slater’s book “Lying” to my experience of reading it.

Ironically, I had submitted an essay to my memoir class last week that contained a fair amount of fiction, (the title was, in fact, "In His Words - an Honest Piece of Fiction"). In this essay I tried to further my own story, to branch off from another essay called The Breach, using a concocted monologue from a man, a stranger to me, who had betrayed my trust during our brief encounter. I used as much truth as I could – I knew about his personality from his co-workers, and I think I know his personality "type". I also knew about events that happened in his life, and, of course I knew all the parts of my own story that were told (in the essay) from his perspective.

However, I completely made up a personal history for him - one that might explain the psychological make-up of a person who behaves in a way that could hurt other humans, or one where a person may be hurting others but not really 'get it'. My classmates wanted me to be sure to define it, upfront, as fiction, (which I completely agreed with). But some wondered why I'd do it at all in a Nonfiction piece. One suggested,“We should respect the genre.”

Which brings me to Lauren Slater’s book, “Lying.” I found it very frustrating to read. I often wondered, why? Why does she tell us this only to retract it later? It began to be wearisome. Sometimes I felt manipulated and caught in her tangled web and even found myself wanting to prove her wrong. If fact, I called my librarian to request her help in finding the "Case Report" Slater placed in the middle of the book. I was also irritated towards the end when she states that, though she knows, she is not going to clarify the fact/fiction questions for us.

I’ll reserve judgment and save my final comments about the her book for Wednesday, but suffice it to say, my opinion will be effected by the fact that, through my own writing, I’ve been sensitized to the goal of telling the truth through the use of "lies".

1 comment:

  1. Look forward to your comments tonight, Janice. I had some of the same frustrations with the book, though I was also drawn to her ability to write gorgeous sentences, and as a poet I love metaphor and really liked that here was a book that was all metaphor. But is it creative nonfiction?


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