Author Archives: Amanda Romeo

John D’Agata: A Literary Artist and Outcast

It is no secret that a lot of the facts presented in D’Agata’s About A Mountain are inaccurate.  Contrary to Lauren Slater, John D’Agata is not lying in order to manipulate the truth.  He isn’t lying about things he “believes to be true”, nor is he lying in an attempt to provide us with an accurate account of his feelings.  In fact, he rarely even addresses his own feelings.  So why?

Rejected by a magazine for his factual inaccuracies, D’Agata defends himself with artistic license.  He changes important facts in order to paint a picture.  If it sounds more poetic to say four people die of a heart attack on a particular day rather than eight, D’Agata doesn’t really give a damn.  It is important to note though, that he does this not only with small facts, but with major characters and personas as well, which is why we hesitate to accept it as nonfiction.  At the same time, calling it a work of fiction would definitely be a hard case to make.  About A Mountain is such a contemporary piece of literature, that I think it would be wrong to call it anything but a work of literary art.

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Memoirs and the Episodic Memory

Memory is complex.  Just like there are many different sub-genres of nonfiction, there are also many different types of memory.  We make an association between memory and fact.  We often expect that when we ask a person to recall a situation they are giving us an accurate account of what happened.  If their story does not match up with what we can prove to be factual, we deem them a liar and thus forth tend to discredit most of everything they say.

But consider the fact that there are many different types of memory.  Specifically, there is a very relevant difference between episodic memory and semantic memory that we must consider when discussing the genre and truth behind Lauren Slater’s memoir, Lying.

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“Sherman’s March” as Fiction

In an interview I recently read, Ross McElwee briefly discusses the possibility of making his documentary, Sheman’s March, into a fiction film and/or a fictional cable series. Some interesting points were made about the purpose behind doing this.  During the Cold War, the idea of nuclear warfare had everyone in a panic.  McElwee’s documentary brings a lot of attention to this.

Interestingly enough, they go on to talk about how there’s actually a much higher risk of nuclear war today than there was during the Cold War.  Yet, most people today remain pretty unconcerned and subsequently unaffected by the fear and anxiety McElwee tells us about.

I agree that this would be an interesting idea to explore for a fiction film or series.  However, it’s my opinion that it would take a lot away from McElwee’s work to make it anything other than what it is.

A lot of the reason’s that Sherman’s March is so successful can be credited to the style he uses.  The idea of it being a personal documentary that captures real people and their real beliefs gives it a lot more validity.  Being non-fiction says a lot for the work.  Making into a fiction flim/fiction series would take all the legitimacy of genuinely displaying a ‘Meditation on the Possibility of Romantic Love In the South During an Era of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation’.

Writing Objectively

The first thing I thought upon writing this blog post was: “How can I write about something I know so little about?”

And by that, I mean how can I write about a recent case. (Not the Serial case).  The case of a friend of a friend, who was accused of killing his own father.

Upon hearing this news, my friend was obviously shocked. He explained to me how completely unbelievable it was that this kid could have any malicious kind of motive.  He was such a nice kid. Continue reading

Relevance of “Selling Out”

re·port  (rəˈpôrt) verb

1.give a spoken or written account of something that one has observed, heard, done, or investigated.
“the representative reported a decline in milk and meat production”
synonyms: announce, describe, give an account of, detail, outline, communicate, divulge, disclose, reveal, make public, publish, broadcast, proclaim, publicize
“the government reported a fall in inflation”


Dictionaries will tell you that by labeling herself as a reporter, Joan Didion is correct.  She meets the standards because she uses real facts and real events when she describes the way people in the west coast were living and thinking in the 60s.  But just because Didion can technically be defined as a reporter, does that necesarily mean it’s the most accurate way to characterize her writing?  When we think of a report, we tend to think of things that we would normally hope to be unbiased sources of information; thorough analyzations of factual occurrences, provided to us with minimal disclosure.  I’m pretty sure that doesn’t exactly line up with whatever Joan Didion does. Continue reading