Gonzo Nonfiction

In response to my last post, I received an email from a college friend who told me I had come to Madison in 1966, not 1965.  Possible, and I had a momentary thought of tracking down the “factual” date.  I didn’t, but the note got me thinking about my “Just sayin’” posts and what the hell I want them to be.  The first words that came to mind were “creative non-fiction.”  Turns out that’s already a formal term: “Creative nonfiction (also known as literary or narrative nonfiction) is a genre of writing that uses literary styles and techniques to create factually accurate narratives.”

Not what I do.  Sorry.  I’m much less interested in factual accuracy than in making a point or raising questions.

When I wrote Matt Jacob books, I started each one wanting to explore some issue, theme, or personal relationship.  Usually more than one.  During the writing process, those concerns often morphed or changed entirely—but themes, issues, and personal relationships were always my concern and always in the front of my mind.  They are the reason I’m writing again, be it posts, more Matt Jacob books, or different projects entirely.

Ironically, when I was writing “pure” fiction, an enormous number of people and critics accused me of writing fact.  That Matt Jacob was really me, despite clear knowledge they were reading fiction.  Said so right on the cover.  That alone taught me the line between nonfiction and fiction is often quite blurry.  (Particularly when a critic didn’t like what I wrote.  More about this another time.)

Well, I guess I can’t claim that my posts are straight nonfiction.  Nor are they fiction or even creative nonfiction.

That leaves Gonzo. See Hunter Thompson, known as the “creator of gonzo journalism.”

Of course, what I write has little or nothing to do with journalism.  Even in his whacky, drugged-out Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Thompson was covering an event.  But I’m much less interested in any particular event than how it affects me and connects to other people.  Perhaps I should term these posts Ego Nonfiction but I’m gonna just stick with “gonzo.”

Which is why when my cousin’s son Scott comment about “On, Wisconsin!” pleased me.

“Wait, does this mean liberals have occasionally been made, not born? Looking at you and my old man at that time – or what I thought I knew – I could have sworn you guys were just “always that way.” Interesting to read about this turn of events.  And raises questions for the next generation on how we got where we are.”

My story had conveyed the point I was trying to make.  And more importantly, had raised questions in his mind.  Dare I say “mission accomplished?”

But I do promise, if I decide to write anything journalistic, I’ll put a warning in its title and you can count on a fact check.  Maybe.

More to come.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.