Re: The Sisters: Saga of the Mitford Family

Becky Lindroos

On Nov 13, 2021, at 9:02 AM, Merilee Olson <> wrote:

I felt the same way about Moby Dick when I read it eons ago. As a character in “Catch-22” said, “too much cetoligy”🤓

On Sat, Nov 13, 2021 at 6:34 AM Magda <> wrote:
I have just finished Wagnerism by Ross- my longest non-fiction work this year. 784 pages. It examines Wagner’s impact on the arts and politics in minute detail, and manages to be an interesting romp through European and American cultural history from the end the 19th century to almost today.
The longest fiction work for this year is Moby Dick with which I have had a hate love relationship:), but finally finished it.

On Nov 9, 2021, at 10:07 AM, wrote:

One of my favorite quotes, by Tim O’Brien:

That's what fiction is for. It's for getting at the truth when the truth isn't sufficient for the truth.”

On Nov 9, 2021, at 5:10 AM, Becky Lindroos <> wrote:

Good question David Rubin! I think lately the word biography is even used for nonliving entities like “London: the Biography” by Peter Ackroyd which was popular a few years ago. I think there are others like that but I don’t remember. It seems as though “biography” is a man-made word to describe a very creative impulse which can’t be limited to its man-made orthographic rules and constraints. (LOL - reminds me of Fungi, et al.) - Order vs creativity - dualism - man’s nature.

And apparently biographies can be called fiction, too. I just looked around. Like Colm Toibin’s The Magician (which is excellent) is technically fiction, but it closely follows the life and writings of Thomas Mann. And the book is even listed as a “fictional biography” somewhere but I’ve forgotten where. This is not a new thing - I read similar works several years ago about Henry James and E. M. Forster (by E.M. Galgut). The E.M. Forster book was so dry it might as well have been a biography.

And non-fiction can be called a novel: Truman Capote's In Cold Blood is one example of a non-fiction novel. (And it is so very much like a novel but it’s basically a “true” telling of an horrendous crime so it’s a fictional novel.)

And then there’s creative nonfiction which follows a couple of the “rules” of fiction but mostly doesn’t. (The authors can’t make stuff up but they can write poetically which can be stretched to metaphorically and blur the truth to one extent or another.)

So I suppose if you want to call a book a novel you’re welcome to. But the people you’re talking to might not always understand what you say to be what you mean.

Question - would you call the Bible a novel? Would I call On the Origin of Species a novel? Would we call Tucker Carlson’s Ship of Fools nonfiction? If you get picky memoirs in general might be fiction and some of them totally are.

To ME, one thing about the distinction is that we can question nonfiction and criticize a work in that regard. Fiction is real within its context - no matter if the book says that George and Martha Washington smoked pot with Mason and Dixon - if the book is fiction we readers have to simply accept that. If the book is promoted and/or sold as nonfiction we get to challenge it. Authors and publishers usually decide genre.

Who will simply stop now - LOL !

On Nov 8, 2021, at 11:35 PM, David Rubin via <> wrote:

Excuse me, Beck. I know this is a nonfiction club Since I often read novels, I used the word, novel, when I should have used the word, book.

BTW, could we call this book a biography, or is that word used for only one subject person?

David Rubin
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On Mon, Nov 8, 2021 at 9:29 AM, Becky Lindroos
<> wrote:
David - this is the All-Nonfiction group and novels are fiction. The Sisters is a biography and I’m looking forward to it. Btw, yes, longer books do sometimes drag.


On Nov 8, 2021, at 2:21 AM, David Rubin via <> wrote:

A few days ago, I decided that I haven't read enough novels lately, so I looked through the group's web site and picked up the Mitford Sisters to join that conversation, only to find that it is more than five hundred pages.

Perhaps it's lazy of me, but when I read a novel, I prefer them to be roughly three hundred pages which I read over the course of a month. Unless it's a really great book, I usually don't read more than that in a month. Unfortunately, the Sisters is more to than five hundred, so I don't think I'll read it.

Anybody else have this problem or limitation?

David Rubin

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