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James Whorton Jr.

Partly True Stories: Editor's Introduction


The idea for this issue of Blip Magazine ArchiveOnline came out of the hubbub following the revelation that a certain memoir, made famous by Oprah, was partly made up. Credulous readers who'd swallowed that story whole were unhappy; literary types, connoisseurs of genre confusion, were delighted.

We talk about the various narrative genres—novel, memoir, short story, straight journalism—as though these categories have a separate existence from the particular works they describe. Credibility does not reside in the genre, however, but in the person of the writer. Books don't lie to us, people do: we've been lied to by neighbors, Presidents, and novelists alike, and skepticism will never be made obsolete by any refinement of the literary categories. It will always be indispensable both to citizenship and to literacy.

Around 300 writers submitted work to this issue of MR Online, and it was difficult to choose 17. The result includes stories about a lost child, a lost shoe, and a boy's first gun. One unclassifiable piece collects and meditates upon some memories, both true and invented, of Robert F. Kennedy; another adds to the fascinating legend of Watergate burglar Frank Sturgis. The thing they all have in common is that, pretty much, I believed every word.

James Whorton Jr. is author of the novels Approximately Heaven and Frankland. He teaches at SUNY Brockport.

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