Truth in memoir explored at First Friday Lecture in Port Townsend

Paula Becker

Paula Becker

PORT TOWNSEND — Humanities Washington speaker Paula Becker will present “The Truth and I: Reading Betty MacDonald in the Age of Memoir” at the Jefferson County Historical Society’s First Friday Lecture today.

The program will be in Port Townsend’s historic city council chambers, 540 Water St., beginning at 7 p.m. Admission is free, but donations that support historical society programs will be welcomed.

Becker is the award-winning author of “Looking for Betty MacDonald: The Egg, The Plague, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and I” and co-author of “The Future Remembered: The 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and Its Legacy.”

She is featured in the documentary film “When Seattle Invented the Future: The 1962 World’s Fair,” which aired on PBS stations nationwide.

She has written for www.HistoryLink.org since 2001 and is a staff historian.

Becker said of MacDonald: “Although she wrote autobiographically, Betty’s relationship with the truth was slippery. During a 1951 libel suit, Betty testified that she’d made up nearly all of ‘The Egg and I’ —questionable testimony that worked in her favor. Betty’s readers seemed not to mind this discrepancy, but why?”

According to Humanities Washington, “Becker’s talk ponders how Betty’s kind of nonfiction relates to the popular genre of memoir today. What — then and now — does ‘truth’ in memoir mean?”

Historical society Executive Director Bill Tennent said, “At a time when the Oxford Dictionary has added ‘post-truth’ as an adjective, Paula’s talk seems particularly timely.”

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