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Author Jamie Sobrato's Diary

12.31.2005

True Lies

Why are we drawn to fiction? (Okay, I know, I know, this is one of those topics that is going to make everyone yawn and click away to their next favorite blog...but read on anyway.)

I was talking to a friend recently about nonfiction and how it often seems to me to be too gimmicky and profit-driven to be believable. It's all about finding some topic or angle on a topic that hasn't been exploited lately, and exploiting it. It's all about promoting a platform that may or may not be useful to anyone, but will sound convincing enough to seem useful at least at first.

And that made me think about how for me, fiction is a way of exploring truths about life without being bound by facts.

Why do you read fiction? What does it do for you?

I believe the books I write provide a mental escape from harsh reality. That's their main purpose. They're stress relief in paperback format. They are meant to entertain. On another level, they reinforce ideals we believe in, and if I were a sociologist I would say they reinforce certain societal norms.

And if this topic is just too boring for words, then let's discuss lies from another angle. The husband was watching a Chris Rock stand-up routine last night while I was in the next room working, and I overheard this rant he does about how everything about women is a lie. Makeup allows us to "lie" about how our faces look, hair weaves (and dyes, and perms, etc) allow us to lie about how our hair looks. And then there are push-up bras, high heels, etc.

I think of all those things as adornments rather than lies. But he does have a point. It's all an illusion. So should I feel guilty next time I put on some eyeliner?

26 Comments:

At 12:54 PM, Anonymous Cindy Procter-King said...

Very interesting thoughts about fiction and non-fiction, Jamie. I agree with you.

However, I'm reading James Frey's A MILLION LITTLE PIECES right now, which is a memoir, so non-fiction, but remembered non-fiction, which is a kind of literature in itself and not TRUE non-fiction, IMO, if that makes any sense. I love this book and can't stop reading it. Normally, I don't read much non-fiction. Dickie likes to read financial self-help type books. Every time he picks up a new one, I think about the author and their platforms - to make money off people who think they need help trying to manage their money, LOL

Cindy

 
At 1:02 PM, Anonymous Cindy Procter-King said...

And, btw, women wouldn't need to "lie" so much if "lying" wasn't the most effective key to a man's heart. Would Chris Rock have given his wife (if he has one, I don't know) a second look if she wasn't "lying" (wearing makeup) when he met her?

However, I do kind of agree about padded, if not push-up, bras. Padded bras, to me, are false advertising. In my later (ahem) years, I've taken to wearing pushup bras because they're so popular (do lingerie stores carry anything else these days?). But, as a child of the Seventies, we would have rather died than wear a padded or pushup bra and I still to this day have never worn padded. Luckily, I finally developed a bit of something to push up. For several years there, it was pretty sad....

Cindy
who should probably use a fake identity for this one....

 
At 1:12 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

I agree, Cindy, about memoirs, which are a form I love. They are sort of like fiction about the author's life, since they are only telling the truth by their memory of what happened, and they are interpreting by choosing what to tell and what to leave out. They are essentially constructing a story or series of short stories about their lives.

And when it comes to Truth, it is really something that exists outside the realm of human experience. We can experience things, and we can come up with our PERCEPTION of the truth, but we can't ever understand it completely because we can't see it from all sides at once. Or something like that.

 
At 1:18 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

I remember one of the saddest/most shallow things I've ever heard was on Oprah years ago. Magic Johnson was on there with his wife after he found out he had AIDs, and he was talking about why he loved her. I think the first thing out of his mouth was something like "When she wakes up in the morning, she still looks like the same woman I went to bed with."

Wow, profound reason to be in love, huh? Because she's still pretty in the morning!

Regarding padded bras, I don't think they even MAKE any other kind in my size. Really! The A-cups are just a vast sea of padding and push-ups, LOL. There might be some very utilitarian cotton things with no padding, but those are not my style. And there might be some lace ones, but they itch and look too lumpy under thin fabrics, so those are mainly for short-term wear or sweaters. So yes, I will admit to being padded often when I wear a bra (I often don't in summer), and I actually like it that way so I don't have to always walk around with people tempted to make "headlight" jokes when I'm cold, LOL.

 
At 1:20 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Amazing how we've already gotten the conversation back to underwear, huh? Bras are a whole topic we've barely scratched the surface of! I personally am not fond of that new trend in letting bra straps show, like when wearing a tank top. I can understand the need for it, and it can look cute if done right, but I rarely see it done "right," with perfectly cute bra straps that match or contrast well with the shirt on top.

 
At 1:30 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Oh, and my humorous bra anecdote of the day. I was looking for a racer-back bra recently (to keep bra straps from showing with my tank tops, of course) and couldn't find one in an A-cup, so the saleslady and my, ahem, ever so helpful friend Janet, told me I should try the training bras!

So I did. And they FIT. I didn't buy one though. They really looked like training bras, and those early adolescent years are the last thing I want to recall when I'm getting dressed.

 
At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Theresa said...

I'm drawn to fiction because there isn't any magic in real life. I just love the idea of sorcery, witchcraft, vampires and all that stuff.

I don't know why, if I ran into a vampire in real life I'd probably scream like a little girl and run away. But in books you can explore the dark side of life without having to experience it.

Maybe that's why romance is so popular too. You can imagine having a hot affair with a gorgeous man without endangering your marriage. Or just take a voyeuristic peek into someone else's love life. Either way, it's still safe.

Bra's............ I was totally flat chested until I had kids, so padded bra's were just plain necessary. Now I'm a borderline B/C cup, which is just beautiful after 30 years of nothingness. So I love exploring the whole push-up option since I never used to have anything to push up. I also like the molded cups because I don't like the headlight look, and they give the girls a nice shape.

I haven't gone bra crazy yet, though my husband has told me I have carte blanche to go nuts in Victoria's Secrect whenever I feel the need.

On a completely different topic. I am so proud of myself. We often get cash from my in-laws for Christmas, and I usually get something for the house. BUT NOT TODAY. I actually splurged on myself! I went to Wilson's leather and got a gorgeous black leather coat. I've never had a black leather coat before, I keep wanting to take it out of the closet and try it on again. Maybe I'll have to get my black lace/boot get-up and put my coat on over it and greet my husband at the door one day. That could be fun.

 
At 4:19 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Hey, good for you on the coat splurge Theresa! Everyone needs a cool black leather jacket. Although the most recent leather jacket I bought was...pink, surprise surprise.

Actually I think the appeal of romance is that it allows the reader to relive the feelings of the courtship process. They also demonstrate love and sex in their most idealized forms. Since fidelity is a must in romance novels, and the hero or heroine having an affair is one of the biggest taboos, I have to believe that at their core, romances are very idealistic.

Oh, and showing up at the door for your husband in that leather jacket get-up is total romance heroine behavior! Heh.

 
At 4:21 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

I actually believe there's lots of magic in real life. It's just hard to recognize it.

 
At 4:21 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Oh, and you got way lucky on the increased cup size after pregnancy! I shrunk a cup size. Which is actually okay. It makes jogging more comfortable, LOL.

 
At 4:58 PM, Anonymous bethany said...

Since I'm really still on the panty conversation (sorry) I guess I'll join the bra conversation. You might have been hazy but I remember the bachelorette party quite well.

Anyway in my proffession I always make sure I have enough padding to disguise if I get cold. It's just common sense.

 
At 5:06 PM, Anonymous bethany said...

the bachelorette party being a reference to the last conversation and not having anything to do with bras or nonfiction.

I don't really like nonfiction and don't know know I got through college and all the nonfiction reading that was necessary. Yuck

 
At 7:17 PM, Anonymous Someone not Cindy - Nope, Not Her! said...

Jamie,

I like your thoughts on truth. You should have become a philosopher.

Yes, I'm finally out of the A-cups. I was there for decades, having begun completely and utterly flat-chested. VERY late bloomer. Only age pushed me out of the A's. When I gained weight, some went there. Or is it that lingerie stores make Bs fit like A's used to fit - to make the wearer feel better about herself? That's what I halfway think. Department store bra Bs are bigger than lingerie store bra Bs.

Jamie, in order to gain a cup size after pregnancy, you have to be willing to gain in other bodily areas, too, I'm sad to say. My butt has had to make major sacrifices for my boobs.

 
At 7:22 PM, Anonymous Definitely Cindy - Who the Heck was that Last Person? said...

BTW, when I say I don't wear padded bras, I'm not talking about the thin padding that is part and parcel of most pushup bras. I'm talking *chunks* of padding. Or gel. Or air-lift. You know, the kind that makes you go up a size. That's what I consider false advertising. Like stuffing socks down your pants (if you're a guy).

And I definitely think if bra straps show, they should coordinate/fashionably contrast. I mean, come on!!

 
At 7:41 PM, Anonymous Theresa said...

You might surprize yourself Cindy and keep the boobs when you lose weight. I have about 10lbs I'd like to lose, but I've been this weight before (pre-children) and I definitely prefer the version with boobs.

The only difference in my body now is that I have a little around my waist that I never had before. I miss my ultra-flat tummy. But I'll take bigger boobs in a pinch.

You have a point about fidelity in romance novels Jamie. I wouldn't want to read about a guy who sleeps with every woman he meets. I guess what I like the most is remembering the early days of a relationship, the excitement of the unknown and all that.

 
At 9:49 PM, Anonymous melissa said...

As someone who has always been and will always be a D-cup regardless of how thin I get in other places, I'll trade places with you A-cuppers any day of the week. Do you know how difficult it is to find a shirt to wear in the summer when you do NOT have the option of going braless?? I mean, all the cute tops are made with spaghetti "no chance in hell of hiding a bra under this" straps.

Hmph.

 
At 9:52 PM, Anonymous melissa said...

Oh, and I'll get back to all that profound fiction/non-fiction stuff later. Right now I'm going to bed to try to forget that another year has already passed. Time goes by WAY too fast!

But have a happy one, anyway.. :-)

 
At 7:18 AM, Anonymous bethany said...

Deep thoughts on new years day

I think that excitement and tenative newness are the reasons some people have affairs- they just get bored in a predictable relationship. I understand the excitement of that- didn't I just force everyone to relive my first romantic moment w/Lee in the drunken bachelorette party story? He and I obviously rehash those old stories way more than Jamie does, because they were the ending of our year long flirtation and then beginning of our relationship.

However reading constantly about the beginning of relationships gets dull really quick.(to me) I guess I would be more interested in reading about a torrid affair since I've never experienced that, than falling in love which I know about.

Then again, maybe that's why I love fantasy, science fiction, and prefer historical or paranormal to just plain ole realistic. Again, more stuff I haven't experienced.

 
At 12:33 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

I do think there is a big draw for many people to read fiction about things they haven't experienced themselves. I'm not sure what my personal preference is there. I do find it interesting to read about historical periods I'm not familiar with, but if things depart too far from reality, for instance with sci-fi or fantasy elements, I tend to find my attention straying. I'm not sure why, because I do enjoy WRITING stories that have lots of fantasy elements. World-building is incredibly fun, but as a reader, I think I'm pretty caught up in exploring the human experience through realism, even though fictional.

 
At 12:35 PM, Anonymous Theresa said...

Then again, maybe that's why I love fantasy, science fiction, and prefer historical or paranormal to just plain ole realistic. Again, more stuff I haven't experienced.

I think that is a big appeal. If we lived in a world where the paranormal was common we wouldn't want to read about it. I guess we're all looking for something outside our everyday lives that we'd like to experience.

 
At 2:54 PM, Anonymous bethany said...

Lots of people do really like realistic fiction, I guess it shows something they haven't experienced or want to experience or be reminded of.

In some ways I guess that means romance writers have to be even more creative because they have to make that certain theme- meeting and falling in love fresh and inventive. I think that must be a real challenge after awhile.

 
At 4:10 PM, Anonymous sherry said...

Although I have read with much interest a few non-fiction books (usually about someone's true life story), fiction gives me an escape from the real world. I have traveled to far corners of the world, discovered different nationalities, and lived many dreams in reading fiction.

Is there not some element of the real world in many ficton books? Do writers not do research when placing a story in a particular city so as to at least give the story some credibility?

There are many times that when I read about a location or place that I don't already know a little bit about it. Besides learning about many places, I learn a lot of words that I have never heard before when stories are placed in different regions of the world. Sometimes the romance of a location adds to the storyline.

When the writer can transport you to the streets of San Francisco, New Orleans or New York City, the reader feels the story and feels like she is there in the city with the characters.

 
At 4:16 PM, Anonymous Sherry said...

Oh, on the bra front, I prefer non-padded bras, but do have some padded ones as well. For me the big issue is that there can be NO seam lines inside the bra cup. For some reason, I have an allergic reaction to the threads and synthetic lining the manufacturers put on the interior seams which makes me itch. Nothing else on the bra will bother me except that center line of stitching. Nothing like spending the entire time the bra is on scratching my boobs...besides being very embarassing.

 
At 5:45 PM, Anonymous melissa said...

I think most non-fiction, with the exception of fitness and certain psychology-type stuff, is just plain boring. Probably because I spent four years at an extremely reading-intensive university and never had time to read anything for fun. Just textbooks, textbooks, textbooks. Plus I'm just too hyper and creativity-driven to enjoy things like science and history. Bleh. lol

I'm drawn to romance first of all because I love to study relationships (I was a comm major with an emphasis on personal rel., thought about becoming a marriage counselor), but I also think the state of relationships is so bad these days that we need to put something out there showing people how it should be. I mean, really--50% divorce rate, people cheating left and right and not giving a damn, kids having sex at 14... *shiver*. I love writing books about adults who are mature enough to deal with the emotional consequences of getting so involved with someone, and who always put each other first in the end. Idealistic, sure. But definitely feel-good, and like Jamie always says, an escape from harsh reality.

 
At 2:01 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Melissa, I agree with you, romance is very much about idealism. And celebrating love and intimacy and female sexuality. All the fun stuff!

 
At 10:25 PM, Blogger Dale said...

While searching for cellulite remove I just have not had the best search results. Maybe I need to create my own blog and let others post so I can get better info on cellulite remove.

 

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