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Fiction Interlude: Tepper Isn't Going Out

Nonfiction is a tangled web, indeed.

Questions surrounding Dave Eggers's bestselling investigative/character portrait Zeitoun just keep coming.

If you'll remember, this was a big title a few years back (it's about a man, Abdulrahman Zeitoun, who was wrongfully imprisoned in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina), and got a lot of good reviews.  The proceeds from it were also supposed to go to the Zeitoun Foundation, whose mission, in part, was to fund Katrina recovery efforts. But recently questions have been asked about where the Foundation has been spending its money, and more disturbingly, Abdulrahman Zeitoun has been charged with plotting to kill his wife, their son, and another man.

And now Dave Eggers, the author of the book, is seemingly trying to run away from questions about it. This makes me sad, as I have always been a Dave Eggers fan (even though I don't get most of the content on his humor/publishing site McSweeney's). Sigh.

It's all a good reminder that nonfiction can be tricky. Even when it's not being actively fabricated (as has been happening, seemingly more and more), what's "true" in nonfiction at one point in time may seem not so "true" (or at least not so unbiased) in light of later events and revelations. Nonfiction is, after all, written by and often focused on people, and people are fallible. This has never particularly bothered me (I have a fairly fluid concept of "truth," maybe from reading a lot of nonfiction?), but it does bother me that Eggers won't even discuss the topic. No harm no foul, Dave, but let's hear more about how this story has developed. THAT would be good nonfiction--recognizing that true stories do not end when you're done writing the book about them.