Fiction…Non-Fiction…And Something in Between?

In News by Dennis Abrams

At Forbes, George Anders argues we need a third category for books, one designed for those that “try to straddle” the line between fiction and non-fiction.

By Dennis Abrams

Wednesday Martin has been criticized for factual errors in her memoir.

Wednesday Martin has been criticized for factual errors in her memoir.

As The New York Times reported, due to “factual errors” in Wednesday Martin’s Primates of Park Avenue, a “memoir on the secluded lives of Upper East Side wives,” the publisher Simon & Schuster will append a note to future editions of the book, clarifying the fact that some details and chronologies had been changed.

Cary Goldstein, vice president and executive director of publicity at Simon & Schuster told the paper:

“It is a common narrative technique in memoirs for some names, identifying characteristics and chronologies to be adjusted or disguised, and that is the case with Primates of Park Avenue . . . A clarifying note will be added to the e-book and to subsequent print editions.”

Obviously, this isn’t the first time that a memoir has run into this problem. So at Forbes, George Anders, after noting noting “Oops, it’s happened again!” writes that he has a solution to the problem.

We need, he argues, a third category, designed for books that “try to straddle” the line between fiction and non-fiction. And here’s his suggestion:

“I propose that we call such books “beautiful stories.” This deliberately ambiguous new name will help readers avoid the feelings of excitement and betrayal that come from taking such creations too literally. Right from the start, it will be clear that such books (or magazine articles) have been polished for maximum literary effect. They can be savored on their own terms. If it turns out that not everything was exactly factual, well, that’s to be expected from something that is, in the end, just a story.”

“Maybe there’s something about the memoir format — and certain forms of investigative journalism — that practically invites the creation of beautiful stories. If so, let’s accept these works as what they are, rather than summoning up outrage at each predictable embellishment.

Read his piece in its entirety here.

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.