Monday, January 30, 2006

Memoir, Fiction, Confusion . . . Pat Conroy

His name isn't James Frey. It's Pat Conroy, and he's a novelist, but what's going on with "The Water Is Wide?" I missed that particular novel, or memoir, or whatever it might be, but I didn't miss Hallmark's rendition of "The Water Is Wide" last night. As always, I was transfixed by Hallmark's production, but my, was I confused. The main character's name was "Pat Conroy," and I recognized the military father from several Pat Conroy novels I'd read, so I made the connection. All right, then, the movie (and book, I presumed) must have been autobiographical -- a memoir, if you will.

Fine, but then, what was up with the final disclaimer at the end of the movie that said (I'm paraphrasing): "The preceding was a work of fiction, and any resemblance to people living or dead is a mere coincidence."

Did I miss something here? Back in the days B.F. (Before Frey), I probably wouldn't have given it a thought. But now I'm wondering why we're all so squirrelish about using the phrase "semi-autobiographical" to describe a based-on-fact story about our lives. Is it because of the legal implications? Or is it because we're no longer sure what's true and what isn't, so we want to keep our options open just in case we're ever asked to prove that personal histories are what we say they are.

All I can say is, thanks for the movie, Hallmark. I love your work. But, Pat, could you please clarify for me what we just saw? Was it real, or was it Memorex? Thank you in advance for your cooperation with this matter.

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