Litkicks Message Board Archive

Fiction/Non Fiction & its autobiographical underpinings

Posted to WritersAndGenres

A while ago, I posted something about the autobiographical novel vs the invented narrative novel, a distinction I thought as useful at the time. Subsequent replies caused me to re-evaluate my conception of the distinction and essentially abandon it.

I just came upon an interview with Geoff Dyer (author of the recent "Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It" which, despite it's stupid title, is NOT a self-help book). They are discussing the difference between fiction & nonfiction (which Dyer determinedly works to blur) and the interviewer asks:

Q: Very often, as you admit, you're blurring fact and fiction.

A: Oh, yes, always. I was saying the other night that at one stage it looked like they were going to publish this as a book of nonfiction in the U.S. and as a work of fiction in England. I liked that very much. The distinction means absolutely nothing to me. The fiction I've written tends to be autobiographically based and I like to write stuff that's maybe only an inch from what really happened. An awful lot of artifice and contrivance and art can take place in that inch. The test is hopefully that you can't tell when I go from faithfully transcribing what happened to completely inventing something, or importing something from somebody else's life. To that extent, the technique is indistinguishable from that of the fiction writer.


I find this very interesting, the idea of melding the one into the other. Essays steeped in real experience, spiced with the invented.

Anyone else intrigued by this?

(the interview is from