Shooting Scars: A True Story (More or Less)

Trent C Jonas, University of Texas at El Paso


When putting together this collection, it made sense to me to view it as a carnival, or a variety show, in which each flight of fancy—or vignette—is accompanied by a kernel of truth, like a ringmaster who introduces a contortionist, or a magician, or a carful of clowns. Because of the “holes in [my] family history” (Sikelianos), this work is necessarily autofiction, but I wanted to ground it firmly in reality so as to create a blend of truth and fiction that is imperceptible to readers, who would likely see it as memoir. I don’t mind this perspective because the largest truths in the work are “capital-T true” (Foster Wallace), but my parents’ perspectives are so unreliable that the details themselves could be either truth or fiction. In this way, the work exists in a quantum entanglement-like state: until proven one way or the other, it exists simultaneously as both truth and fiction. I have included photos and medical records to support the foundational truth of this work. Interestingly (to me, anyway), Mom’s medical records also underscore the potential unreliability of what the reader is reading. I think this interplay across the hard line of “reality” is exactly the type of work that autofiction was created to address. It also demonstrates the inability of even the most cautious of memoirists to accurately recount anything that is unequivocally true, because once they have been filtered through the lens of the writer, the experiences are no longer objective. They can only be subjective. The only difference between memoir, autofiction, and fiction based on reality, then, is just where on the continuum of reliability the writer/narrator falls.

Subject Area

Creative writing

Recommended Citation

Jonas, Trent C, "Shooting Scars: A True Story (More or Less)" (2022). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI30241370.