The Glass Castle Fact or Fiction

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Jayme Pilione
Del Moro
English 10 H
The Glass Castle
“When you’re writing a book that is going to be a narrative with characters and events, you’re walking very close to fiction, since you’re using some of the methods of fiction writing. You’re lying, but some of the details may well come from your general recollection rather than from the particular scene. In the end it comes down to the readers. If they believe you, you’re OK. A memoirist is really like any other con man; if he’s convincing, he’s home. If he isn’t, it doesn’t really matter whether it happened, he hasn’t succeeded in making it feel convincing,” says Samuel Hynes, author of The Growing Season: An American Boyhood Before the War. The memoir genre has sparked controversy since it first evolved. As Hynes stated, “it doesn’t really matter whether it happened.” It depends whether or not the author is convincing, and whether the readers believe it. Except for the author, no one can tell whether the story is true or not. This is what supports the argument that Jeannette Walls’ memoir, The Glass Castle, is not all true.

“Anyone who writes a memoir is asking to be called a liar,” says Walls herself. A memoir is a narrative composed from personal experience. But in a novel like The Glass Castle, which tells of events from when Walls is three years old, how much of the story truly is personal experience? James Frey, author of the memoir A Million Little Pieces, admitted to falsifying his memoir. There have been many other accounts of false memoirs in the past, and in the article “Truth and Consequences,” Walls provides several examples. “Folks in Limerick, Ireland, claimed that Frank McCourt made up whole sections of Angela's Ashes. Sean Wilsey's stepmother sent a letter to the publisher of Oh, the Glory of It All claiming that the book contained more than 30 "actionably defamatory statements of fact." And last month, Augusten Burroughs was sued by members of his adoptive family, who...
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