July 10, 2013

Slippery Nonfiction

with Edward McPherson

Nonfiction, simply put, is anything that isn't fiction. Easy enough, right? However, in recent years, several controversies have arisen as supposed factual memoirs are revealed to be nothing but a string of exaggerations or, well, fiction. But how well does any nonfiction writer capture "The Truth?" Numerous psychological studies have shown that if multiple people witness the same event, it's possible for all of them to walk away with very different stories of what happened. Edward McPherson, essayist and assistant professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis, explores truth and memory in nonfiction. We also discuss how a place's identity can be shaped by fiction as easily as reality in his essay, "Dallas: From Afar."

In addition to the interview, you can find a reading selection from his essay and a reading list based on the episode below.

For Further Reading:
Dallas: From Afar and Up Close” by Edward McPherson; The Backwash Squeeze and Other Improbable Feats by Edward McPherson; The White Album by Joan Didion; Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje; The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

image flickr ron doke. Audio Free Music Archive podington bear.