3 responses to “Fred Setterberg Interview”

  1. Dick Cummins

    Fred – even though you didn’t post – I assume you follow us here:

    I’ve read ‘Lunch Bucket’ of course after Cheryl’s wise recommendation and enjoyed it as I grew up in Monterey late ’40’ to 1955 (4.5 years old to 11) when father had died and mother was hospitalized so my uncle drove out and picked me up to go back to Midwest and live with him on farm.

    I ask you.

    Anyway – can really relate to trying to write about family and growing up and needing to call it something besides ‘memoir’.

    Have been churning away at ‘He May Never Be Coming Back’ – working title of what I am now also calling ‘…a novel veiled as memoir’ (like movie disclaimers – ‘based on actual events maybe?’) because if there are even two lines of dialogue in the material – it’s fiction.

    Unless you’ve got a hell of a lot better memory than I do…

    Your characters can sound like you remember your parents – scenes can be based on some vaguely remembered event, but basically – to tell a good story – sorry – you have to make stuff up!

    Just finished a chapter about something that did happen. Narrator is four years old and situation is father killing all the chickens on their ranch because they have to move down to Monterey. Kid has never seen the gruesome process of chickens being killed before – being, plucked, gutted, and singed and one is a favorite pet hen of his from his feeding chores he named ‘Pretty Girl’. That night his father tells his mother to cook fried chicken and of course willful won’t eat any – on principle – so father says kid will eat it or won’t get anything else til he does. Hunger is the best sauce and a great motivational tool in the area of compromise.

    Of course ends with kid so hungry he does eat a drumstick – with a twist ,. The ‘fiction’ is based on something that actually happened, but the dramaturgically rendering of scenes, the dialogue, the characters – while resembling things my own parents may have said or done – are all entirely made up.

    Who can remember what happened in detail almost 66 years ago? Not me.

    Thus the ‘novel veiled as memoir’ tag – and so it should be.

  2. Fred Setterberg


    I like your tag — “novel veiled as memoir.” That will keep plenty of conversation going.

    I also like what Wallace Stegner wrote in the final essay of his 1992 book, Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs:

    “Sure, it’s autobiography. Sure, it’s fiction. Either way, if you have done it right, it’s true.”

  3. Dick Cummins

    And ‘Just because what I tell may not have actually happened, doesn’t mean it’s not true’ – both Steinbeck and Kesey – and I would guess Kesey stole it from the former… dc

Leave a Reply