The David Sedaris dilemma: A fine line between ‘realish’ and real – The Washington Post

I can’t believe we have to go through this thing again:

…While the stories themselves are hardly equals — Daisey’s was a hard-hitting exposé about industrial exploitation, Sedaris’s essays are light and personal — they both raise the question of what’s permissible in the context of a nonfiction program.“Some of his characters are made up. You can’t use a nonfiction label and do that,” said Heard, the editorial director of Outside magazine. “Hilarious dialogue is the license he gave himself. . . . [But] if it’s nonfiction, you just can’t do that.”

via The David Sedaris dilemma: A fine line between ‘realish’ and real – The Washington Post.


2 Responses

  1. It really is a matter of disclosure and labeling. Years ago, writers — especially for their first books — would fictionalize their autobiographies, then call them “novels”. Today, writers do the same thing and call them “memoirs”. The old way was safer and better yet, offered the cover of plausible deniability (“That’s not a portrait of you in the book, Mom.”). But today people want “true” stories that read like “art” and writers are as driven by desire and ambition as ever. I really didn’t think anyone believed Sedaris’ stories happened exactly as told, or that anything was at stake in their truth. But if we want him to say, “I don’t let what actually happened get in the way of a good joke,” okay.

  2. Agreed. It always seems to me that people are missing the point with Sedaris, though. His stories are funny because of the conceit that they are true.

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