The territory between fiction and non-fiction

We all talk with the dead, whether we’re daydreaming about impossible conversations of asking deceased loved ones for solace and advice. In dreams, too, many of those with whom we want to converse seem unable to, as if they are shy or too busy. I liked the idea of mixing fiction with non-fiction, with the existing history of a person’s life.

. . So what does it mean to interview someone who is dead? We want the dead to give us information, provide revelations, tell us something they didn’t know when they were alive. We want to believe that they know more than we do, can advise us, help us. Where are they? Is there a God? How scared should we be? We want to ask the dead why they did what they did. We want them to say sorry. We want to say sorry to them. Above all, I think, we want to believe it is possible to talk after we die. Indeed, we want this more than anything else: more than love and food and warmth. We need to tell stories because stories are love, even if it’s dark and we are lost, and so we continue, regardless, blind, talking to those who may not hear us. Dead people never truly die, until we are all dead. And when is that? The dead are outside time, the time we inhabit, and this crack of light between two eternities is confounding to us.

However it happens, putting words into the mouth of someone who is no longer with us finds its way, naughtily, inevitably, into the actual ‘life’ of the subject. We know it is fiction and yet . . . this is the way we create our histories (when we lack family data), as well as history itself, which is nothing if not a erratic sequence of narratives patched together by the living and the dead.

Dan Crowe, (editor) Dead Interviews: Living Writers Meet Dead Icons, Granta 2013

Comments Off on The territory between fiction and non-fiction

Filed under story, the unknown, the writing process

Comments are closed.