‘All Stories Are True’ by John Edgar Wideman

I think he is one of our greatest living writers and adore the way he has drawn fearlessly on autobiography, including devastating events (incarceration of loved ones, repeated losses) to write his fiction. I learn constantly from his transmutation of reality into fiction, his precise, original, utterly compelling calibration of how much truth to tell. Also, the lyricism of that first paragraph, in particular sentences like: “Footsteps, voices, a skein of life dragged bead by bead through a soft needle’s eye.” There is something in the scope of this first paragraph reminiscent of James Agee and yet completely original and specific to Pittsburgh, the natural world a respite rather than pervasive in this setting. 

First published in The Stories of John Edgar Wideman, Pantheon, 1992, which was republished as All Stories Are True, Vintage Contemporaries/Picador, 1993

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