Award-winning novelist and screenwriter Richard Russo is the author of seven novels and two short story collections. Empire Falls won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2002. His most recent book is the memoir Elsewhere. He lives with his wife in Portland, Maine.
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I’ve only written one memoir and have no plans to write another, but the experience left me with one firm conviction about the genre: a good memoir should read like a novel. The question is how to accomplish that without making use of the novelist’s principal tool—invention. With that in mind, I anticipate we’ll be discussing, among other things, what kind of truth the narrative hopes to tell, what kind of fictional devices are permissible (and even essential) to a good story that purports to tell the truth, what can (and should) be left out. And we’ll tackle head on the question too few memoirists stop to consider: So what?
Richard Russo on the Web