Classification of genre does not matter in the sense of story. Whether it be creative nonfiction or fiction, the authorial intent is the same, to create a story of meanings to their audience; to tell a story that may be related to the lives of others whether it be completely made up, or written in strict factual evidence. We as humans crave acceptance, attention, and love. All these matters are written about in this story as Slater must learn to come to terms with her sexuality, her relationship with her parents and most importantly, learn to live with herself as she is not as she is-not. Lying should most definitely be classified as memoir, though it could be fictional, it still merits such classification as it is the telling of a life story through the eyes of an individual with physical and psychological problems and how they perceive the world around them.
Upon reading the first line in this book, “I exaggerate.” (Slater. p. 1) Slater admits to her audience that this book is a toss up of fact and fiction. Slater’s intent is to continue this mind trickery throughout the memoir in order to creatively show us her life story through her own lends. Although, others may reveal that these recollections are untrue as Slater’s mother had about the presence of the cherry tree, they still merit truth as they are recalled not through the mothers lense but the authors. Slater allows her readers to know this is what she has intended to do by writing, “…I think I am a nonfiction writer, and I would like to be known as such. I record my life, sifting and trying to separate what is real from what I’ve dreamed.” (Slater. p. 165).
Using metaphors and lies as a means to shape her life events, Slater gives us truth not through actual events, though they could be actual events, but through artful analogies used by metaphors. She uses seizures and falling as metaphoric devices to convey her message(s) to her readers. Rather than use the dictionary definition of “falling” or “seizure” she uses what they represent to portray her thoughts, feelings, and interactions of her life and how these things represent her understanding of her world.
Falling is her message of accepting who she is, what roles she plays, and how she over comes the struggles within her colorful life. Falling literally meaning, (1) an act or instance of falling or dropping from a higher to a lower place or position. To drop or descend under the force of gravity, as to a lower place through loss or lack of support. (2) to come or drop down suddenly to a lower position, especially to leave a standing or erect position suddenly, whether voluntarily or not, (3) to become less or lower; become of a lower level, degree, amount, quality, value, number, etc.
The acceptance of herself in relation to falling can be see while she is at a catholic school where she is taught to fall to protect herself when a seizure happens, though this chapter in her life is more than protecting herself from bruises, results from the violent thrashing of a seizure. “…they were teaching us much more than falling; they were teaching us living.” (Slater. p. 49). This shows the readers of this book that the idea of falling does not band with seizures but with life, with learning to live, to let go of the things that hold you back, to learn to get past your fears of failure and pain.
Slater’s learns at this school the importance of acceptance of ones self. She writes, “Now that I know how to fall the right way I don’t bruise so much anymore….” (Slater. p. 54-5). This sense of confidence she obtained at school helped guide her in her adolescents, but as she got older, and less naive, she was stuck once again in a world of loneliness. One where she craved acceptance, attention, and love from those around her. Slater even admits that she could once again be that little girl again so that her feelings of loneliness may leave her and be replaced with the delight she once felt within herself. She once again sought for her seizures to return to her.
The creation of seizures is more difficult of a metaphor to interpret as it represents so many things. It represents itself first and foremost as an illness but then reveals itself as Slater’s fright, insecurities, her crutch in life, a life line, and excuse, as well as a protective wall. She writes about seizures as a symptom of her epilepsy. In her introduction to Lying, she inserts a passage from The Text Book of Grand and Pettie Mal Seizures in Childhood, 1854 she explains what epilepsy is in truth meanwhile setting up her audience for her metaphoric epilepsy.
Seizing became a means to deliver comfort and protection to Slater in her youth. She would bring about or even fake the presence of her seizure. Slater writes, “…illness became not a thing I had but a thing through which I could escape… I was safe. I saw hot-air balloons and lovely ladies fed me salted limes, and this place, my place, I stayed small forever.” (Slater. p. 74). This cry for attention, the need to be small, to be engulfed in love and nourishment can be seen as her need for acceptance and the lack of relationship with her mother.
Adolescents is an importance age for figuring out who you are as a person. To experiment in order to understand your likes and dislikes within the world. Slater, having difficulty with even a relationship with her parents, her mother being the center of focus in this book can be viewed as the rooting cause for Slater’s insecurities. Her relationship with her mother is why she has created epilepsy, seizures, and falling. The need to impress her mother, to get her attention, and in turn get her mothers love is a major theme in Lying.
Her mothers absent love is the onset for Slater’s illness. “where, I wondered, had my mother gone? And then I felt what I had not allowed myself to feel, the longing for her love, and the longing for a younger, braver self, a self who had once said a definite yes to living in the world.” (Slater. p. 95-6). The younger being mention here is the one that had learned to fall all those years ago. Because of the absents of a mother, Slater begins her path of lying, stealing, and over all, acting out.
Slater’s authorial intent is to deliver a story of overcoming ones obstacles, to show her readers her struggle through her creative narration of metaphoric illness. Although she admits to the possibility of fact and fiction when recalling her understanding of her childhood, we should, as readers accept that this is truth. Truth of the authors accounts. Therefore this is a memoir of creative nonfiction. It is a story of a troubled young Slater, recounting her life events and how she responded to those assurances. To classify this as anything other than creative nonfiction reduces the very thing Slater is attempting to give her audience, fact and fiction, truth and lies, the very things Slater struggles with throughout her life.