I’m Your Man
There is a truth in fiction that can never be found in most non-fiction save those factual by measure or geography. As I write that sentence I wonder how many exceptions may exist, but generally. In my mind anything biographical or autobio is suspect.
Why? Perception. To perceive something, even that experienced by self, is flavored by condition, circumstance, past, belief, and personal understanding.
Fiction has always been my preference but the wisdom of age encourages me to widen my knowledge base. Seek new things, learn new things, do new things. My friend Joss Burnel who is one Crowing Crone Woman of Wisdom leads by example in stepping out of one’s comfort zone.* I can’t link for some reason so Joss can be found at crowingcrone.com.* I am not sure there is much bravery or adventure in broadening one’s reading preference as she now travels the world having really stepped out, but it is a start.
My own perception of age is changing from a youthful belief that old age is a time to take it easy, a well-earned rest, to one that continuing to change and learn and work is vital. To stop learning, to stop changing is to stop living and all of a sudden having reached the sixth decade and soon to see it in the rear view mirror of life, the ability to learn seems crucial. Now when I check out of the library every few days I include at least one non-fiction in my haul. Included are several bios and autobios as well as books on religion, politics, sciences, well, almost anything that catches my attention. Almost all autobiographies are difficult reads, presented in very two dimensional slices with gaping holes big enough to qualify for the Swiss cheese designation. I have read biographies that seemed to have way too much of the author’s persona imbedded too deep to recognize resulting in a ‘barely there’ subject leaving me feeling too much has been glossed over. How much do we really want to share about our lives anyway? How much should we share?
I have made several starts at a family history, something I think my children might value. Part way through it occurred to me to question exactly how much information should I be passing on? We are all entitled to privacy I think and I believe our paths are very private. We all make mistakes and that is how we grow and learn. Do we need to hang out all the dirty laundry?
Celebrities and the over exposure of their lives make for great entertainment, at least as far as the public is concerned. God knows every magazine and entertainment show knows this and they reap mega bucks in the revelations. Mind you some so called stars beg for the exposure and then whine when lines are crossed.
The thing is, people tend to believe what they read. Good fiction makes you feel the possibility. Do you think that is true? I mean look at those who so wanted to believe Dan Brown’s story The Da Vinci Code that they now believe. Of course that is why I love fiction – I, you, any of us, can make it real thanks to the wonder of imagination. The greatest skill, the greatest gift in any work of fiction is to make it real.
Is there any truth at all in biographical non-fiction? Probably about as much as there is real milk in some so called dairy products? Does it matter? Perhaps not. One recent book of biography was a welcome refreshing exception to my perceptive bias. And a bias it must surely be since I have not read every bio ever printed so can only judge on very limited experience.
I’M YOUR MAN: The Life of Leonard Cohen
Sylvie Simmons was a new author to me and of course the initial draw to the book was the subject, Leonard Cohen, someone to whom I would declare complete and total admiration. Why? I guess because he did it his way with no apology. Did he do it right with no regret? Of course not. Are there any of us who have no regret? I’d sure like to hear about it if he/she is out there. Without dissecting the content I would just say it is a good read that felt more honest than most.