A Storytelling Round-up

Can Facts be Nonfiction and Fiction?

Here’s an interesting piece on Aeon Ideas by Roxanne Varzi, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Film and Media Studies at the University of California, and author of ethnographic writings about Iran. Born in Iran to an American mother and Iranian father she migrated to the U.S with her family shortly after the revolution of 1979. She is the author of a number of anthropological books about life in Iran and the Iranian underground theatre scene which attempts to find freedom of expression within an environment of strict censorship laws.

In her essay entitled ‘Fictive Truths’, Varzi argues that the line between fiction and nonfiction can sometimes be blurred and that rather than losing sight of the truth, a well told story of fiction can help to bring fact alive. >‘Fiction can make you feel afraid, make your heart beat faster, elicit smell, taste, touch, sound – all integral parts of ethnographic reality but rarely paid attention to in the writing of ethnographies. Fiction is an invitation to imagine, especially to imagine oneself in someone else’s shoes like Lisa Genova’s Love Anthony that in two pages of wonderfully descriptive first-person narrative from the perspective of a young boy, Anthony, creates a visceral experience of what it’s like to live life on the spectrum. No other scientific book on sensory sensitivity explained so well why my son has to have every tag cut out of his clothing or kicked a full cup of chocolate pudding down a slide (because the bad smell was so overpowering that he had to have it gone immediately)’.

True Crime Podcasting

Inspired by the Serial podcasts an Atlanta newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is using the same model to create a weekly true crime podcast which follows the real life case of a man who is appealing against his conviction for arson and murder.

Breakdown’ also features a website which provides followers with profiles of the characters involved in the case, maps, a timeline, video tours and a glossary of legal terms. Dena Levitz at IJNet describes how senior reported Bill Rankin went about choosing a real life case case to serialise and the reasons for choosing audio as a format over a written report. >‘I think a well-written story in a newspaper is a wonderful thing and can change the course of history,” he says. “But I also always thought really good audio is even better than good TV because you can do just about anything while you’re listening. You can be driving or in your yard at the same time as you’re hearing it unfold. It can really bring you into the moment of what you’re listening to.’

New Fonts Make E-reading Better

Fans of fonts will be interested to hear that Amazon and Google have both developed new fonts for e-reading.

The Wall Street Journal reports that both companies have been searching for a font which is both easier on the eye and looks more like a book and less like reading off a screen. >‘The new layouts also include the kind of aesthetic details that make a typographer’s heart sing: perfectly aligned drop caps (the giant letters at the beginning of chapters); adjusted spacing between characters; and ligatures, or links, between certain letters when they stand side-by-side. “For so long, it was this wasteland of type aesthetics,” said Charles Nix, a senior designer at the typeface producer Monotype. “Overall, it just looks more bookish.’