David Sedaris' 97 Per Cent Solution

Remember the brouhaha last year over whether David Sedaris’ work was so heavily embellished it didn’t deserve the designation of “nonfiction”?

Of course you don’t. It started with a provocative New Republic story by Alex Heard that asserted, among other things, that a “perfectly formed midget” guitar teacher did not think that a young Mr. Sedaris hit on him in Atlanta.

The question whether Mr. Sedaris’ best-selling books belonged in the scoundrels section of the bookstore alongside James Frey and (according to some) Augusten Burroughs found its way onto Romenesko’s forum and Jack Shafer’s Slate column and then sort of disappeared into the relentless churn of the online media news cycle.

This week, Time‘s Web site offers readers a chance to pose questions to Mr. Sedaris on the occasion of the publication of his new book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames. The very first question: “Should your books be shelved in the fiction or nonfiction section of the bookstore?” (From Reilly Capps of Telluride, Colo.)

Mr. Sedaris’ answer:

Nonfiction. I’ve always been a huge exaggerator, but when I write something, I put it on a scale. And if it’s 97% true, I think that’s true enough. I’m not going to call it fiction because 3% of it isn’t true.

Well, that settles that.

David Sedaris' 97 Per Cent Solution