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Illustration by John Ritter

Blood Nation

Truth is the goal of the memoir—or at least of its preface. Such authenticating devices are ways of gaining trust in a distrustful world. And yet such a disclaimer comes up against the problem encountered by a fabricator coming clean: “To tell you the truth, I am a liar.”

The Novel is Dead, Long Live the Novel

Nevertheless, we are irked—irked because of the predictability of these reports, irked because they are written by people who know (or claim to know) what literature can do, who claim to be experts on the subject of Why People Read and Write Books, and yet who, somehow and repeatedly, seem to completely miss the point, who don’t understand why someone might go to nonfiction for one thing, to fiction for another. The problem is not that the different genres might do different things, serve different needs, have different goals, provoke different reactions in their readers; the problem is that suggesting fiction should be more like nonfiction—needs to be more like nonfiction—diminishes both genres, making our literary world a lesser place.


Book Notes

CURRENT EVENTS Blessing Same-Sex Unions: The Perils of Queer Romance and the Confusions of Christian Marriage, by Mark D. Jordan. Chicago, June 2005. $29 A thoughtful and provocatively sustained analysis of gay marriage, Jordan’s book will undoubt [...]

Notes on Current Books, Autumn 2002

For more than two millennia, the history of ancient Egypt was known to us through ancient Greeks. Two centuries of study of ancient Egyptian sources has produced a different picture. History and literature are powerfully influenced by point-of-view. [...]