Who hasn't tossed out the adage "truth is stranger than fiction" after hearing some absurd but true tale? In fact, the saying has turned cliché from overuse. But when it comes to fiction writers, reanimating the lives of real people is a serious matter.
I love historical fiction. A writer takes what is known about a place in time or a character from the past, and then transports the reader further and deeper into what are the blood and guts of the past.
Márai's novel Embers is so touching that it should be widely known, and I, who pride myself on being familiar with such obscure gems as Zeno's Conscience and Wide Sargasso Sea, am puzzled and shaken by my failure to have previously unearthed it.
There were so many terrific words and phrases in the '20s, why not use them? If you're claiming your novel strives for verisimilitude with the lives, and if you cite to the biographies and letters and critical studies, then make the language real, too.
The Pinkertons have cropped up in many popular books and films over the years, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Dashiel Hammett, a one-time Pinkerton detective, admits he drew inspiration from his detective days in crafting such characters as Sam Spade.
This awards season, several movies that contended for Best Picture prizes came in for an unusual degree of scrutiny regarding their historical accuracy -- or lack of it. But playing fast and loose with history is nothing new.
It's Oscar weekend, and in the desperate journalistic hunt for meaning in self-promoting spectacles -- the Academy Awards, the Superbowl, political conventions -- best-picture nominees have been criticized for straying from the truth.
"The traditions of midwifery sustained the community during the grim days of slavery and Jim Crow. It was also a source of pride and identity through generations of African Americans, before being supplanted by the white medical establishment."
Who's responsible for instilling in our young people an appreciation for history and citizenship? Many of us -- teachers, educators, and members of the public alike -- are very concerned about the demise of social studies.
What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than with a novel inspired by a real-life hero who risked her own liberty to ensure America finally made real the ideals illuminated in the Declaration of Independence?
My first "HuffPost Books" piece was posted a year ago this month, and I'd like to use that trivial anniversary to thank commenters for introducing me to many authors and novels I had never read before.
In Miss Fuller, April Bernard takes a speculative scalpel to the life of Margaret Fuller, offering a narrative of her experiences that shines a harsh and unbecoming light on the male transcendentalists.
Over the thirty years of my publishing career, I've learned that book snobs come in all shapes and sizes. And their snobbery often seems more about them than the genre they've picked for their disdain.