28 December 2006

History Is Written by the Winners

A Representation of an Experience Part 2

Another book I ate on the train was A Million Little Pieces by James Frey.

Maybe the foreward has something to do with De Zengotita's ideas of what is representational?
"A Million Little Pieces is about my memories of my time in a drug and alcohol treatment center.

As has been accurately revealed by two journalists at an Internet Web site, and subsequently acknowledged by me, during the process of writing the book, I embellished many details about my past experiences, and altered others in order to serve what I felt was the greater purpose of the book.

I sincerely apologize to those readers who have been disappointed by my actions....

I didn't initially think of what I was writing as nonfiction or fiction, memoir or autobiography.

I wanted to use my experiences to tell my story about addiction and alcoholism, about recovery, about family and friends and faith and love, about redemption and hope.

I wanted to write, in the best-case scenario, a book that would change lives, would help people who were struggling, would inspire them in some way....

As I wrote, I worked primarily from memory.

I also used supporting documents, such as medical records, therapists' notes, and personal journals, when I had them, and when they were relevant.

I wanted the stories in the book to ebb and flow, to have dramatic arcs, to have the tension that all great stories require.

I altered events and details all the way through the book....

My mistake, and it is one I deeply regret, is writing about the person I created in my mind to help me cope, and not the person who went through the experience.

There is much debate now about the respective natures of works of memoir, nonfiction, and fiction.

That debate will likely continue for some time.

I believe, and I understand others strongly disagree, that memoir allows the writer to work from memory instead of from a strict journalistic or historical standard.

It is about impression and feeling, about individual recollection.

This memoir is a combination of facts about my life and certain embellishments.

It is a subjective truth, altered by the mind of a recovering drug addict and alcoholic.

Ultimately, it's a story, and one that I could not have written without having lived the life I've lived." pp. v-vi
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