Lie like a novelist

You may have noticed that my pal Annie Reid is back, shellshocked but tight-lipped, from a less-than-restful vacation, and she’s resumed Friday blogging duties. Her link to a Guardian piece on verifying the details of memoirists’ traumas reminds me that I recently read about an old-fashioned kind of storytelling called “fiction,” in which you can not only get away with lying but are affirmatively encouraged to make shit up. The people who write these stories are called “novelists.” (They are, some say, a dying breed, since readers are only interested in true stories now.)

Here’s an excerpt from an interview in which Justine Larbalestier and John Green, both practitioners of this curious art, celebrate the interrelationship between writing and prevarication.

Justine: So, John, were you always a liar?

John: Presumably there was a time before I could talk when I was honest, but I’ve been a liar since at least the age of four, when I convinced my preschool teacher my home had been burglarized, and that the burglars had stolen our television. How about you?

Justine: My memories are hazy, but I do remember trying to convince my younger sister that she was adopted….


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