What is the relationship between memory and imagination? Given our cultural obsession with reality (a word Vladimir Nabokov said should always appear in quotation marks), with true-fact memoir and reality TV, what possible role is left for the imagination to play? In this workshop we’ll begin by doing an in-class exercise inspired by Joe Brainard’s amazing book, I Remember [“I remember daydreams of dying and how unhappy everybody would be. I remember the only time I ever saw my mother cry. I was eating apricot pie. I remember that life was just as serious then as it is now. I remember ringworm. And name tags.”] Once everyone has written his or her own series of Brainard-esque memories, we will trade them (literally) to use as raw material in the creation of a single, elaborated, imagined event in each of our own faux “true-fact” memoirs.
Kathryn Davis is the author of seven novels: Labrador, The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf, Hell, The Walking Tour, Versailles, The Thin Place and Duplex. She has been the recipient of the Kafka Prize, the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the 2006 Lannan Award for Fiction. She lives in Vermont and teaches in the MFA program at Washington University in St. Louis, where she is Hurst Senior Writer-in-Residence.