Monday, November 24, 2014

Lying to Tell the Truth: Teaching Lauren Slater

I was asked by the editors at Assay: A Journal Of Nonfiction Studies to write a brief piece about the challenging but ultimately rewarding experience of teaching Lauren Slater's memoir, Lying. Slater's book is subtitled "A Metaphorical Memoir," and may be an account of her life as an epileptic, or may be an account of her using the disorder solely as a metaphor. You can read the piece here.

My opening gives you an idea of some of the difficulties I face with a book that requires that readers reassess what memoir is, means, and can do, a book that requires that we press re-set:
Once, a student in my Literary Nonfiction class refused to open his copy of Lauren Slater’s Lying during discussion. An excellent student, he wasn’t being precious or dramatic. Glaring at me, he simply refused to enter the text, so irritated and discomfited was he by Slater’s approach to memoir and the way she subverts the expectations we bring to reading.
The "My Favorite Essay To Teach" archive is here.

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