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Titill

Is Truth Stranger Than Fiction? The question of veracity and reliability in the memoir Running with Scissors

Útdráttur

In this dissertation I demonstrate what makes a memoir seem untruthful following
guidelines by Paul John Eakin. In recent years memoirs have increasingly been proven
guilty of being untruthful, some partly inaccurate and others completely untrue. Because of this critics are apt to declare their opinion if they feel that a memoir is not entirely true. Running with Scissors is one of them and has been debated over since it was published. By applying guideline from Paul John Eakin to the genre, step by step, we come to realize what makes readers as well as critics read a memoir like Running with Scissors in disbelief. Eakin discusses several aspects of the memoir, i.e. truth telling and how fiction is not only fabrication but can also be an effect of narrative. Eakin also discusses memory, and
the problems involved in recalling in the past, as well as the part trauma plays in memory formation. He also points out the importance of privacy and how the memoir necessarily reveals the lives not only of the author, but his family and friends as well. By using Augusten Burroughs’s memoir as an example of a contested work but which
has not been proven to be a fabrication in any way, we get a better idea of the issues. The
work caused controversy, and its reliability was called into question. He was sued by
some of the people portrayed in the work, but he emerged from the crises relatively
unscathed. I will examine this controversy in light of Eakin’s guidelines on the subject.

Birting
8.5.2009


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