My new book, "The Year I Slept", is semi-autobiographical, but I also made up a lot of stuff too. I think the thing is, people who read it will wonder what is real, and what is not, and by kind of reeling them in like this, it lets me pull off a big surprise in the end.
I remember the last line in Michael Chabon's "Wonder Boys" is about people reading books and looking for "what sounds real". I think even when we read fiction, we struggle to identify things that really happened, and framed in fiction, they almost have more meaning than when they do in non-fiction. That's just the impression I get anyway.
Sometimes when I read Steinbeck's "East of Eden" or Hemingway books, I wonder what really happened and what did not, and like I said, the framing of these events in fiction, for me, makes them more powerful. When you're in a fictional world, even if it's sprinkled with nonfictional events, there's a sort of intimacy that is not present in more journalistic writings.
There are numerous conceits in "The Year I Slept" that are obviously NOT real, but with so much that IS REAL, it kind of brews this concoction that, I think, it quite intoxicating. Like I said, people will wonder, and in this wonder, leave themselves open for my final trick.
I can't wait for them to read it. :)