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The Writers Forum at SUNY Brockport

Franklin Burroughs -- Nonfiction

Host(s): Stan Sanvel Rubin

Tape order number: V-568

Visit Date: April 13, 1990

Length: 41 minutes

Brief Summary: Burroughs discusses the origins and motivations of "Snapping Turtle in June" and the way much of his writing springs from an impulse to reconcile experiences from his boyhood in South Carolina with his encounters as an adult in Maine. He speaks of the culture of storytelling in which he was raised and the way it created enhanced landscapes for him as a child. Burroughs compares the effect of digression in the essay to the workings of a kaleidoscope and says he likes the way different shards of color and pattern, different clues or red herrings, seem to click into place at some point in the essay. He speaks of the tension nonfiction writers face between the desire to remain true to experience and the ever-present urge to invent or fictionalize, what he calls "fidelity to the fact" and "obedience to the whim of the imagination." He reflects on his decision to attempt creative writing later in life.

Work(s) Discussed:

  • Billy Watson's Croker Sack

Work(s) Read:

  • "A Snapping Turtle in June"

Writers mentioned:

  • Albert Goldbarth
  • Lewis Thomas
  • Annie Dillard
  • Emerson
  • Dryden

You're trying to have a monogamous relation to your own experience, but the adulterous impulse is always there.

-- Franklin Burroughs

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