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It always distresses me when I hear writers (often memoirists) say that they could never have told the story they did if certain family members or friends were still alive. Frequently, these are child abuse stories, but they might also involve alcohol and drug problems, a coming out experience—crime. Or perhaps the work in question simply presents an unflattering portrait of certain people that the author is reluctant to own up to face to face. Novelists and poets can confront this same dilemma of course, although there is the perception (read: illusion) of greater creative distance (Thomas Wolfe could’ve told you about the pitfalls there)—but it’s precisely this margin of difference, however thin and vague it may be, that the memoirist is trading on.