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.