Split is a recent collection of short stories that thematically focus on divorce or other acute relationship collapse. The writing of these pieces was no doubt related to my own experience of divorce, but any sense of substituting memoir for fiction is incorrect at best, and a poor reading (or, I suppose, possibly poor writing) of the work.
No one should be surprised that a fiction writer starts with the perceptions and recollections that include memory; even if the story is about aliens from Planet Nine, the author can’t avoid his or her own experiences as source guide to imagining. Fiction is a work of imagination, but at a minimum an act of imagination grounded in the writer’s experience of mind. Memoir also presents an imaginative story, but one constrained by select memories in service to the story.
Or, as the wonderful memoir and fiction writer Dani Shapiro much better puts it:
I suppose I would liken it to one of the differences between writing fiction and memoir. When we write, we know when we’re inclining ourselves in the direction of imagination — and when we’re hewing to memory. (Dani Shapiro, September 29, 2016, “On Authenticity,” danishapiro.com)
Perhaps I’m a lazy or under-powered fiction writer, in that I’ll often use real-world templates such as the shape of a actual room or even my own shape to build a fictional character’s placement or appearance, and even more telling is that some particular experiences and thoughts can trigger imagined events, reactions, thoughts, feelings.
Of course, the end of my long marriage triggered a lot of feelings and thoughts, but the stories here are not memoir. Although if in the reading you find the stories to seem that way, then bully for me: I’ve succeeded in creating convincing fiction.