Monday, October 16, 2006

Reality vs. fiction ...

... Oates story draws ire from TCNJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I hadn't known of the story or the controversy until a colleague - who lives in Lawrenceville - told me about it. To put it mildly, he was not amused. What do I think? Well, obviously, if it's in the news, it's in the public domain. And this particular incident is the sort one would find in a Joyce Carol Oates story. She is probably right that if it had appeared in some obscure journal it would have passed unnoticed. But presumably it was she who submitted it to the New Yorker and she certainly knew it was going to appear there. I think it is a perfect example of just how ruthless artists can be.


  1. Much as I like her writing, Siri Hustvedt did much the same thing in WHAT I LOVED, so nothing new there...

  2. "If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' is worth any number of old ladies." -- William Faulkner

  3. Anonymous11:37 AM

    Well, I have never been a fan of Oates, and this is not the first time she has offended someone (usually it's friends and colleagues). Public appologies are not enough as far as I'm concerned.

  4. Susan Balée4:37 PM

    I think everything is fair game for fiction. Indeed, it's often the 'unsolved crimes' that inspire it. The writer tries to imagine a scenario that would make sense of the facts that are known, that would give a plausible explanation for what happened.

    But I need to find the latest NYorker (under my bed, probably) and see what JCO might have done to so offend people. The number of novels and short stories with a real event as a departure point are legion. If writers are no longer allowed to use them as inspiration -- well, then, I'd really be unhappy!