Friday, March 30, 2007

Friends, Romans...

Did you know that it's Memoir Week at Slate? Well, it is. The memoirists are tackling the issue of how they told their family and friends that they've written about them in ways that may or may not be flattering. I haven't read all the essays because I'm saving it for next week when Caleb's on spring break. I like my online reading to be punctuated by requests for food and pleas to look at accomplishments on the Gameboy.

I've always referred to my book as "narrative nonfiction," which is a sure way to get people to look at you as if you're making things up. I had a conversation with my fabulous editor Jackie early on, in which we talked about what kind of book this is. "Yeah," I said, "where is it going to be shelved in the bookstore?"

("Well, let's hope right up front," she said, which is one of the many reasons I heart the woman.)

As it turns out, Practically Perfect is going to be called a memoir. But reading these essays on Slate, it's pretty clear to me that my book's not a memoir, at least not in the same way. For one, I never tackled this issue of how to tell the people, because I showed the people--Brandon, my mom, my sisters, one friend in particular--as I was writing it. My story is not one that relies on a certain type of portrayal of my people.

There's that, and also that I'm a little bit of the chickenshit.

The only person I'm apprehensive about reading the book is Caleb. Not that he'd be allowed to right now; there are too many f-bombs, too many admissions that I'm not always sure what I'm doing. But someday ... someday he'll have opinions about my publicly stated opinions of being his mother. I suppose I'll do the only morally responsible thing then. I'll take him aside, show him how to set up his own Blogger account, and let him have at it.

I'm kidding. If he wants to do that, he can figure out how to set up his own account, just like The Olden Days.

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