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Memory and Fiction

December 1, 2010

From my friend Mayumi:

This line made me think of you: “Arguably, the act of memory is an act of fiction—and much in the act of fiction draws on acts of memory.” –The Paris Review, The Art of Fiction No. 204 w/ David Mitchell

I love many things about this quote. One, the casting of memory and fiction in a circular mold, so that they harden together. Two, the adverb “arguably” that invites us to consider and possibly disagree. Three, the unwritten nod to creative nonfiction (or narrative nonfiction, or literary nonfiction, whatever your preference) in that much CNF draws on both memory and elements of fiction writing. And four, the word “act.” I believe memory can be used as a verb (different from “remember”) and that using it as such helps people without memory engage in the act even without achieving “results.”

This quote made my friend Mayumi think of me, and now I’m thinking of my friend Mayumi, as well as memory and fiction and creative nonfiction and memoir, as well as another quote that makes me think of this one. Circular mold.

From “Words into hype” by Chris Offutt, Harper’s October 2008 (originally from Seneca Review):

“creative nonfiction: Prose that is true, except in the case of memoir.”

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