At the level of story, A Terrible Mercy exposes the ways that lies, particularly those we tell ourselves and others so that we might bear our own emptiness, contributed to the demise of a family ultimately devastated by alcoholism and mental illness. At another level, the book, a memoir, incorporates techniques of creative nonfiction to illustrate the difficulty a writer encounters when attempting to reconstruct the past. Inclusion of footnotes, parenthetical comments, and narrative interrupted by seemingly stray thoughts, for example, all attempt to illustrate how, by their very nature, mind and memory cannot help but digress and how, as a result, precise, linear recall is all but impossible. At yet another level, the work seeks to elevate and thereby transform the suffering expressed throughout by offering the reader a crafted, lyrical piece of original nonfiction. The Contextual Essay, which accompanies the memoir, examines the ongoing public debate about a memoirist's obligation to tell the truth. It includes a discussion of prevailing, and oftentimes confusing, definitions of nonfiction as well as its many subgenres and shows how the book itself, while incorporating elements of memoir and creative nonfiction as they have been defined, nonetheless frequently falls outside the boundaries of these categories. The essay then examines existing definitions of contemporary Latin American women's qtestimonialq literature, a subgenre of nonfiction that honors both the importance of telling the truth about one's life and the necessity of lying when honest recall is impossible or when telling a particular personal truth eclipses a larger one that speaks to the experiences of a larger community or that speaks for those who are unable to tell their own stories in a public forum. In the end, then, the Contextual Essay advances the idea that certain accepted elements of the Latin American testimonio, when combined with selected elements inherent in memoirs that incorporate creative nonfiction techniques, can be used harmoniously to produce a new subgenre of memoir, the testimonial memoir, which would be expansive enough to support the telling of any life story by a writer honest enough to lie.At the level of story, A Terrible Mercy exposes the ways that lies, particularly those we tell ourselves and others so that we might bear our own emptiness, contributed to the demise of a family ultimately devastated by alcoholism and ...
|Title||:||A Terrible Mercy: A Testimonial Memoir and Contextual Essay|
|Publisher||:||ProQuest - 2007|