If the Truth Be Told: Accounts in Literary Forms plays with the sense of truth. It is composed of six chapters, “Childhood Dangers,” “Relational Logics,” “Jesus Chronicles,” “Criminal Tales,” “Aging, Illness, and Death Lessons,” and “Telling Truths.” Each chapter includes fictional and nonfictional accounts, including poems, stories, monologues, short dramas, essays, creative nonfiction, and mixed genres, to address each chapter’s subject. Pieces are based on the author’s personal experiences, newspapers accounts, and purely fictional accounts (all revealed in an appendix at the end of the book).
Moving through the book from beginning to end, readers may or may not know whether they are reading a nonfictional or fictional text. Pelias intentionally subverts assumptions readers may have in reading the different pieces in order to blur the boundaries of what counts as evidence, what might be accepted as truth, what might be of use in everyday lives. In this vein, Pelias invites readers to consider what they value and why. As an engaging compilation of literary works, this book can be read by anyone simply for pleasure.
If Truth Be Told can also be used in any number of college courses in communication, creative writing, cultural studies, ethics, narrative inquiry, philosophy, psychology, sociology and qualitative inquiry. The book includes an extensive appendix with general and chapter-by-chapter discussion questions.
"In this remarkable new work Ron Pelias offers us touching, lyrical accounts of both the profound and the everyday. Indeed, the joy of If the Truth Be Told is how Pelias conveys these simultaneously, the one through the other: the intensity in the mundane, the ordinary in the complex. Through the detailed attention he gives to both content and form—his discerning observational eye and his keen grasp of the intricacies of literary form and voice—he takes us into the range of human experience: from the ache and loss of ageing to bitter-sweet childhood episodes, from the strains and refrains of domestic relating to questions of faith and belief, from horror to sadness to laughter to love, and more. We accompany him into the universality of our little lives and he leaves us somewhere other than where we were. The book is a joy. Read, write, teach, live."—Jonathan Wyatt, Edinburgh University
"If the truth be told, I’d say that Ron Pelias recognizes and shows readers that truth is a slippery subject. Using poems, plays, stories, monologues, short dramas, and essays, he provides a vision of truth-telling as a caring, humane, and ethically demanding quest as well as a shifting, illusive, and sometimes frustrating struggle. Blending fiction and nonfiction, personal narratives and newspaper accounts, and autoethnography and ethnography, Pelias creates literary texts that eloquently represent the quandaries of childhood, religion, violence, relationships, aging, retirement, illness, death, and telling truths. In the process, Pelias becomes a conversational partner for the reader, modeling a perceptive, introspective, and caring manner of coping with the challenges of truth-telling through the life cycle. If the truth be told, I’d confess that I found myself in many of the stories he told; I anticipate that other readers will as well, and we’ll all be better for it. If the Truth Be Told solidifies Pelias’s standing as a wise and creative writer par excellence."—Carolyn Ellis, University of South Florida
"Everyone should read this book. Pelias glides so easily back and forth, between poetry and prose, between memory and imagination, between his (genuine) gentle heart and his (imagined) criminal mind, between essay and parody, between script and quip, between loving us all with the light that shines forth from our depths and skewering us with the darkness that sometimes engulfs our hearts…that we quickly begin to glide with him, to develop a groove, to fall into the rhythm of his words. This is a remarkable book, a human journey that does not weary, though it is at times strenuous. You will not be disappointed. Buy this book. Read it. My bet is that you will want to read it again. And again …."—Christopher N. Poulos, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
"In conversation when one uses the interjection ‘If the truth be told,’ it is typically accompanied by an admission of one’s true feelings. This interjection rhetorically clears the discursive field to allow the individual to state something that he or she might otherwise not say, or might even lie about in order to be polite or to maintain appearances. Pelias’ If the Truth Be Told explores the blurry zone between the fictive and the factual implied by this interjection by placing emphasis more on the conjunction ‘if’ and less on any certain ‘truth.’ Through an array of writing strategies—poems, micro dramas, monologues, essays, flash fiction, and literary nonfiction—he draws upon his life, other’s experiences, and his imagination to put into play a myriad of speaker’s perspectives in order to illuminate with deft precision and concision the stakes and challenges in telling any truth. For anyone interested in learning how to poetically and creatively capture the human experience, If the Truth Be Told is a must read. Each tale richly satisfies yet whets the desire for more; the only solution is to keep reading right through to the end."—Lesa Lockford, Bowling Green State University
"Pierced with vivid and vulnerable description, emerging optimism, and inconclusive resolution, Pelias offers an incomparable model of autoethnographic and performative inquiry, as well as a remarkable account of an accomplished life."—Tony E. Adams, Northeastern Illinois University