I am a fan of nonfiction, among other genres. I’m a recent convert to this one, but I’m officially hooked. I was thinking about all the reasons why I liked it recently, since I pretty much avoided it for so long. These are the reasons I came up with -- and some of them are kind of weird.
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I think there’s a lot of realism in most fiction, even if it’s fantastical. However, memoirs and biographies have a kind of real rawness novels don’t have. I think it’s because in nonfiction, you know it actually happen -- unless, you know, someone’s lying about their memoir.
I admit it. I totally admit it. Sometimes, reading about someone else’s horrific experiences, you just have to think, “Hey … at least my life’s not THAT bad. It never has been.” You read about former drug addicts, whether they have or haven’t gotten sober, people who suffered every imaginable kind of abuse, and such terrifying situations, and it’s hard to feel sorry for yourself.
And big intrigues, of course. Like oh, how Mackenzie Phillips confessed to a full blown sexual relationship with her dad, you know. Nonfiction can be like gossip, except that it’s more often verifiable, unless you’ve heard about a lawsuit. The airing of dirty laundry, I have to admit, has always been a favorite of mine.
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It’s incredible, the things people write about themselves, their families, their habits. Some of them you look at, and you think they’ll be terrible, but they end up being so entertaining. Others you can’t believe at all -- but it’s still entertaining. Still others really are horrible -- and they can be the most entertaining of all!
Quite often, reading about a lifestyle choice, religion, sexuality, culture, or personality different than your own, you learn about these things from a new perspective. You may understand certain aspects a little better. Reading what other people have gone through in any given situation can really open up your eyes.
I love this game. After a while, you kind of have a tendency to play it with every memoir, biography, and autobiography. You go through wondering what is part of the composite trick, what events are exaggerated, what stories are outright lies. When you find the books with lies, do you know what the best thing is? Snarking about it on the internet! I love my job!
One of the best things of reading a nonfiction book, especially if it is a memoir or an autobiography, is being inspired. I mean, I could do that, you could do that, anybody could. I have amusing anecdotes from my childhood, tragic tales of the teenage years -- I could totally do that! But ah, to do it as well as Josh Kilmer-Purcell.
I’m curious to see if I’ve got any converts or cohorts out there. Do you think you might like to give nonfiction a try? Have you done so already?
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