aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Does a novelist need a bibliography?

When I wrote Circles of Confusion, I did tons of research about Vermeer, the forger Van Meegeren, art stolen during World War II, etc.

I kept a big file of photocopies, thinking someone might challenge me along the way – an editor , copyeditor , or reader - to show that the historical facts I had used were true.

No one ever did.

But now novelists are more often using bibliographies, probably for the same reason I kept my file – to show that they did their research.

In an article in the NY Times published a few months ago, some critics and authors found it off-putting or even vain.

“It’s a trend that is running out of control,” said Sebastian Faulks, the author of “Birdsong” and “Charlotte Gray,” in a telephone interview from London. “Lots of writers use them as a way of showing off, saying, ‘Look how hard I’ve worked, look how clever I am, look at all these books I’ve read.’ It’s a plea to be taken seriously.”

I don’t think it’s a bad idea. Sometimes when I read a novel I want to know more about the facts its purporting to make fiction out of. What do you think?

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Tags: fact checking
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