Writing About Your Family, or How to Lose Your Invitation to Christmas Dinner in One Easy Lesson
KJB has written two creative non-fiction books about her immediate family--Ducks on the Moon: A Parent Meets Autism, and the upcoming Wreck: A Very Anxious Memoir and in the process has managed to piss off almost everyone she is related to. And as for the rest of the family--well, the new book just came out. Give it time.
When doing interviews to support this kind of work, Burke doesn't get asked about the content very much. Just the very Canadian response to oversharing— “Why are you doing this, anyway?” In response, Burke has said "I have a freakish memory that starts when I first spoke, which is when I was nine months old. It is scattered, tattered and in many places significantly re-written, but there’s lots of it; my bio-hard drive runneth over. So I would LOVE to hand some of this stuff off. Simply put it out in the world, a whole thing that exists, that has weight and veracity and then just let it go. I think I’d run better. But mostly, I think it would make the tiny animal curled over my heart, ready to sink its ivory needle teeth in for a good long gnaw, go somewhere else for a while. Let me get some rest." Which puts a stop to that and any other question, quick smart.
But if you too need to clean out your hard drive, or remove rodents from your vital organs, this talk may be for you. In it, Burke will discuss the ethics of talking about living people, being an unreliable narrator (and how you can make that cool with readers), and ultimately the need for rigor, humour, corroboration when you can get it, and a judicious helping of the Golden Rule.