The lyric essayist seems to enjoy all the liberties of the fiction writer, with none of a fiction writer’s burden of unreality, the nasty fact that none fo this ever really happened — which a fiction writer daily wakes to. One can never say of the lyric essayist’s work that “it’s just fiction,” a vacuous but prevalent dismissal akin to criticizing someone with his own name. “Lyric essay” is a rather ingenious label, since the essayist supposedly starts out with something real, whereas the fiction writer labors under a burden to prove, or create, that reality, an can expect mistrust and doubt from a reader at the outset. In fiction, lyricism can look like evasion, special pleading, pretension. In the essay, it’s apparently artistic, a lovely sideshow to The Real that, if you let it, will enhance what you think you know. The implied secret is that one of the smartest ways to write fiction today is to say that you’re not, and then to do whatever you very well please. Fiction writers, take note. Some of the best fiction is now being written as nonfiction.
— Reality Hunger