The Unreliable Narrator: Writing What You Don’t or Can’t Remember, featuring Andi Buchanan

Dec 2, 2019

Andi Buchanan

Unreliability in fiction and nonfiction has a long history, and can be something to embrace, depending on your story. This week, Brooke and Grant interview Andi Buchanan, who opens her newest book, The Beginning of Everything, with these words: “I am an unreliable narrator.” Hear the story about why this is the case, and how this ties into memory. As always, this episode is about permission—to write what you’re called to write, embracing unreliability, or imperfect or lost memory, and seeing where the story goes.


Andrea J. Buchanan is a New York Times bestselling author whose latest book is The Beginning of Everything, a finalist for the 2019 PEN/E.O. Wilson Award for Literary Science Writing. Her other work includes the multimedia young adult novel Gift, the internationally bestselling The Daring Book for Girls, her essay collection on early motherhood, Mother Shock, and seven other books. She lives with her family in Philadelphia.

The Takeaway:

Have you ever worried about how to write what you don’t remember? If you’re writing nonfiction, especially memoir, you’re not alone. For novelists, this is sometimes the very thing that draws writers to fiction—the ability to fudge the details and not face any consequences. But unreliability can be something to embrace no matter what your genre. if you’re a memoirist, don’t get too hung up on what you don’t remember, because there are workarounds, and if you’re a novelist, see what today’s theme has to offer you. Maybe there’s an unreliable narrative voice waiting to be tapped. We hope you have fun with the myriad possibilities that await you.

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