better job of truth
Fiction makes a better job of truth
than reminiscences that are strictly factual;
the alien, corny story of a girl called Ruth
is not diminished, being virtual, not actual.
Michiko Kakutani reviews Doris Lessing’s “Alfred & Emily” (“Lessing Looks Back On Shadows and Parents, ” NYT, August 5,2008) :
Doris Lessing once declared that “fiction makes a better job of the truth” than straightforward reminiscence, and while that might well be true of her celebrated and semi-autobiographical Martha Quest novels, it’s an observation that doesn’t apply at all to her latest book, “Alfred & Emily, ” an intriguing work that is half fiction, half memoir. The sketchy, insubstantial first half of the book imagines what her parents’ lives might have been like if World War I had never occurred. The potent and harrowing second half recounts the real life story of her parents, and the incalculable ways in which the war fractured their dreams and psyches and left them stranded in the bush in Africa, eking out a meager existence on a tiny farm in Rhodesia.
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