No Such Nonsense

A little of this, that and... what was I talking about again? It's TV, sports, pop culture and politics - all the stuff that really matters in life.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

David Sedaris has a new book of essays coming out. And in fact, the humorist, This American Life commentator and all-around cool kid, has himself been the subject of much spilled ink recently. (What do you call it when it's online? Spilled pixels?) The subject of all that journalistic focus? The truth, or lack thereof, of Sedaris' brutally funny tales.

See, Sedaris writes non-fiction humour. He's been very open about that fact that he embellishes. In fact, he suggest that the very fact that he is a humorist exonerates him from any quibbles about truthfulness. Humorists exaggerate. That's what makes them humorists. But in the post James Frey era, some folks are pretty testy about anything labelled non-fiction that isn't the literal truth.

Yet even the most 'honest' of memoirs contains a veil of inexactness, bias and half-remembered moments. Unless there were tape recorders in the room, we'll never know how much any memoir is 'real'. I'll admit when reading Sedaris, I've occasionally called bullshit. Some tales are too outlandish, push a little too far. Yet his best work, his funniest pieces, are also the most true to life. True, I don't know. But honest, that's a sure thing.


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