While studying literature in college, I had to take two courses in literary theory, which involved endless debates about how much the author’s life should affect one’s reading of a text. One of the most predominant schools of thought (at least in the halls of academia) is that one should not look at the goals of the author or autobiographical issues when interpreting a work.
But if you go to an author event, or read just about any author interview, inevitably questions arise as to both the author’s intentions and how much of their own life events inspired the work.
Many people have asked me about the truth of my work—strangers as well as people I have known for years. I don’t deny the aspects of what I have written that are based on my experiences, but I wonder at our desire to know the answers to these kinds of questions, and at what level the answers matter. If I have done my job as a writer, I think, a piece of my writing can stand outside of questions of truth, for it can achieve a kind of truth that is its own.
Also this month at Glimmer Train: