introducing readers to writers since 1995

August 08, 2004

Revisiting Truth and Beauty

by Ron Hogan

Lucy Grealy's sister lets Guardian readers know she isn't thrilled with Ann Patchett's account of her friendship with the dead author, and she makes her displeasure personal:

My sister Lucy was a uniquely gifted writer. Ann, not so gifted, is lucky to be able to hitch her wagon to my sister's star. I wish Lucy's work had been left to stand on its own.

Setting aside my disagreement with her assessment of Patchett's considerable gift as a novelist, my primary reaction to this piece is ultimately one of discomfort. If we accept as a starting premise that a nonfiction piece forces the reader to make a judgment about its validity, this particular piece forces readers to pass judgment not just on Grealy's propositions but on the validity of her emotional judgments. And that's not a very comfortable place for readers, no matter what they think of Grealy's feelings once they've read the article.


There is something weird going on with the Grealy family. Sven Birkerts reports that they were upset at his kind and thoughtful published remembrance (eulogy?)of Lucy.

I won't pretend to understand what that could mean.


Posted by: birnbaum at August 8, 2004 03:19 PM

I don't know if this is public knowledge or not, but I heard from a reliable source that Patchett had a hell of a time dealing with the Grealys--they fought her all the way. Presumably this is why the book was rushed into print--so that any legal objections would be ex post facto.

Posted by: Jimmy Beck at August 9, 2004 01:03 PM
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