Categories
Vonnegut, Kurt

The Hyannis Port Story

I was talking to the resident genius here about false memories and the publishment thereof, when an idea emerged, an idea with such potential for industry salvation that there’s no choice but to document it here, in the interest of knowledge open-sourcing, or whatever.

The idea involved all these made-up memoirs floating about these days, and what a shame it is that they all have to be disparaged, refunded, yanked from shelves or production processes, and so on, especially in times of economic struggle. The idea is to take a fraction of the shelves of the Memoir section at your local bookstore, and refashion them into an entirely new genre: the Memwasn’t. Or the Fauxmoir. Whatever. The name’s beside the point.

But, think it over. It can be an inspiring game for authors, coming up with the most sensational, most unbelievably believable fake memoir imaginable. And at some point, there will be more and more of these books, and maybe no shortage of great ones, and people will be ardently buying and reading them, and the language will evolve and what we know as Fiction will be known as Memwasn’t (or whatever), and we can have stimulating arguments about Literary Fauxmoirs vs Genre Fauxmoirs, and we’ll all be happy again, and rolling in no shortage of books.

So there you have it, for any underemployed marketing brains just waiting for an idea to get you back in the game. All I want’s a credit at your awards speech. And to read all your fake memoirs… make em scandalous.

Play

By miette

Miette has been podcasting the best of world literature's short fiction since March 2005, when she was just a pup.

5 replies on “The Hyannis Port Story”

When Rexroth wrote his autobiography he was accused of lying so he called ‘Autobiographical Novel’ a name so bad it must have been conceived in contempt and deployed as a slap. And Ford Maddox Ford was routinely accused of being a liar in his many memoirs. But what would be the good of a memoir that wasn’t largely embellished? When I finsihed my last book I figured its publication prospects were near zero, unless I tried to market it as a memoir. Briefly I enjoyed wish-fulfilling fantasies of putting it over just long enough to cause a scandal, with public tears and confessions on Oprah. I think most honest novelists laugh out loud at the idea of an honest memoir, or a wholly invented novel. What most memoirists do I can’t imagine, except maybe count the cash. There are 30ish writers working on their 3rd and 4th memoirs. They would be: Vol.1 sexual abuse. Vol.2 drug abuse and rape, follwed by recovery. Vol.3 relapse and marriage. Vol 4 divorce and re-recovery. ad nauseum. maybe these are Meme-wars?

Perfectly put, Jon (no surprise there), and while I won’t dip too many toes in hopefully stilling waters of truth in memoir, it’s probably worth the reminder that this is a distinction largely important for what comes off the labelmakers at the bookselling chains. The Marketers seem to have convinced the Readers that an emotional connection is an appropriate reaction to a book only if that book is labeled as True (or their version of True). It’s all bullocks, of course, and another reason to bid good riddance to the way the ‘business’ of books is being conducted.

I mean, anyone who was ever a child and who’s ever written a letter to Santa proclaiming to have been a Very Good Boy (slash Girl) This Year might know that total forthrightness is far overrated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *