While I found McCourt's autobiography a terrific read, I have a a hard time believing that he could so accurately remember events from his very early childhood, as young as 3!  Why is it that some...

While I found McCourt's autobiography a terrific read, I have a a hard time believing that he could so accurately remember events from his very early childhood, as young as 3!  Why is it that some authors can obviously play loose with facts and others (like Hemingway and more recently, James Frey) get into all sorts of trouble?

Expert Answers
charcunning eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although I personally have a difficult time recalling childhood events, there are others, namely my 93-year old grandfather, that seem to remember every single detail of life!

Sure, I'm sure that McCourt had to embellish here or there, but I doubt he made up entire sections of his life. Frey, on the other hand, has openly admitted that the events in his book were purely fictional and based on no real events.

Personally, I love Angela's Ashes and I love Frey's A Million Little Pieces. Frey should simply have requested his book be listed under 'fiction' --it is under Memoir/Literature on my copy.

Also, if you look at The Things They Carried by O'Brien, you will find it is highly autobiographical, but it is listed as fiction.

Authors just need to be careful about how they package their wares so that it's not deceiving!

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some could be memories, and others could be stories handed down over the generations from parents to kids, or brothers and sisters to brothers and sisters.  I have some vivid recollections from when I was 3 and 4, even though they are fragmentary snapshots.  Those experiences are as central to my development as things that happened later in life.  Whether or not he remembers everything correctly is another thing, but I think the readers forgive him since the tale is so masterfully told.

henock | Student

Is it the truth? I don’t know. But, from my reading I suspect that Francis is a compulsively honest person- the opposite of a pathological liar. He told us the truth…which?

 

Truth is as vast as the universe, as numerous as the stars and as long as eternity. In this case as long as nineteen years- very long for a book. There is a lot of truth that should be shorn only if to write a readable cohesive book. Saturday by Ian McIwan is only about a day in the life of one family. There McIwan ponders the impossibility of shoehorning a life of a person into a book. Robert Pirsig in Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance also observes almost the same point: ‘we take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world.’ The same as saying: we collect a few broken links from the chain of our past life, link them using our imagination and call the end product a - memoir.

 

 

 

henock | Student

Is it the truth? I don’t know. But, from my reading I suspect that Francis is a compulsively honest person- the opposite of a pathological liar. He told us the truth…which?

 

Truth is as vast as the universe, as numerous as the stars and as long as eternity. In this case as long as nineteen years- very long for a book. There is a lot of truth that should be shorn only if to write a readable cohesive book. Saturday by Ian McIwan is only about a day in the life of one family. There McIwan ponders the impossibility of shoehorning a life of a person into a book. Robert Pirsig in Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance also observes almost the same point: ‘we take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world.’ The same as saying: we collect a few broken links from the chain of our past life, link them using our imagination and call the end product a - memoir.

 

 

kristin66 | Student

Well, some of us do and some of us don't.

I myself do remember childhood events in detail down to the early age of 2.

Read the study guide:
Angela's Ashes

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