Walls’s book is a memoir about her nomadic childhood with well-meaning but narcissistic parents. At one house in gold-mining country they live with many stray animals, including an injured buzzard her father brought home one day. His name was Buster. Just before the moment in question, young Jeanette has encouraged her father to drive the car as fast as possible on the highway, causing it to overheat and break down.
We sat there for a long time. I could see buzzards circling high in the distance, which reminded me of that ingrate Buster. Maybe I should have cut him some slack. With his broken wing and lifetime of eating roadkill, he probably had a lot to be ungrateful about. Too much hard luck can create a permanent meanness of spirit in any creature.
I hate this paragraph and all the lies it tries to tell. It’s like: just about every memoir I read would be so much better as a novel. Please, book industry, recover from your true-story addiction.
Maybe this is all why I like taxidermy so much. No one would ever mistake a mounted animal for a live one, no matter how intently the taxidermist tucks his eyelids and paints his nostrils. No matter how lifelike the pose. I mean, which—to borrow a phrase—is the authentic animal?
Regardless, here’s a quote from him, courtesy of :
“The compound seems inescapable: a piece of writing may be aesthetically true, yet verifiably false; just as it can be—as is so much contemporary memoir—verifiably true but aesthetically false.”
Atwan series-edits Best American Essays. I love/hate the idea of a thing being a best American essay. But I tend to love Atwan. Here’s something else he once wrote, which I’ve told students for years: Essays are all about seeing a mind at work.
I’ve been a fan of pro wrestling for a long time. Not the inspiredly named NES game pictured at right (about which I can only recall that The Amazon, part-snake, part-man, was unstoppable—at least when wielded by my friend Darrell), but the spectacle that’s now marketed as Sports Entertainment. I shouldn’t be a fan of sports entertainment. I’m so rarely entertained by sports. Fortunately, professional wrestling is to sports what the Jonas Brothers are to rock stars. Continue reading Two Ways of Looking at Falseness: Part 2