Writing that bills itself as ‘non-fiction’ must always be completely truthful – right?
The artistry of memoir, essay and reportage lies precisely in the writer’s negotiation of narrative form, tone, and selection from among the available facts, without the freedom to invent – right?
For some writers today, the answers to these questions are not so straightforward. And some of the greatest writers of the past played fast and loose with the conventions of non-fiction – at times gloriously, at times disastrously.
We hope you’ll join us at Smock Alley on Wednesday 28 November for the inaugural ‘Dublin Review Conversations’ event, on the subject of ‘Truth, Artistry and the Borderlands of Literature’. Three of the most brilliant non-fiction writers at work in Ireland – Roisin Kiberd, Doireann Ní Ghríofa and Mark O’Connell – will be in conversation with editor Brendan Barrington about the relationship between artistry and fact, their own writing practices, and the state of the art in creative non-fiction today. Tickets can be booked via the Smock Alley website: https://smockalley.com/dublin-review-conversations/.
Dublin Review 72
‘He then stepped into my office to give me some advice. Don’t wear your hair tied back like that, especially when you start getting bigger and you opt for flat shoes. You’ll only look like you’re about to clean your house.’
In the autumn issue of the Dublin Review, Dominique Cleary writes about the pieces of advice she has received over the years – from relatives, friends work colleagues, health professionals, and others – on the subjects of fertility, pregnancy, labour, work, and motherhood. From the fellow-student who told her she shouldn’t bother studying law because she was probably going to get married and have children, to the obstetrician who instructed ‘no more babies’ after the birth of her second, it seems that everyone is an expert. ‘Advice on Motherhood’ is a beautifully observed, witty, and sometimes coolly furious evocation of the ways in which women’s reproductive role – actual or imputed – can make them public property.
Also in the autumn Dublin Review, Tom Lee describes a brief stay at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas: the hotel from which, last year, a gunman perpetrated the largest mass shooting in US history. In ‘The Real World’, Molly McCloskey tells the story of a girl who becomes enchanted by a young friend and her complicated family, and then spends years trying to make sense of the ensuing chaos. Brian Dillon writes about the ‘skewed felicities’ of the essays of Elizabeth Hardwick, ‘an endlessly instructive prose exemplar’. Rob Doyle recounts his experiences of forswearing drugs for meditation, travelling in Buddhist Asia, and falling spectacularly off the wagon. Also, short stories by Aoife Casby and Jane Lavelle, and an essay by Adrian Duncan.