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The Factory of Facts

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  92 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
The acclaimed author of Low Life reinvents the memoir in a cunning, lyrical book that is at once a personal history and a meditation on the construction of identity.

Born in Belgium but raised in New Jersey, Luc Sante transformed himself from a pious, timid Belgian boy into a loutish American adolescent, who eschewed French while fantasizing about the pop star Françoise Har
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 30th 1999 by Vintage (first published 1998)
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Sep 17, 2008 rated it liked it
“The past is a notional construct, a hypothesis, a poem. I hold on to its passport because it was issued at my birth, without any possibility of my assenting or not. It’s not so much a document as it is a brand or a scar. I don’t really endorse the past, mind you, and I don’t intend to go back and settle there. My actual relation to the past is ironic, if anything, even if the irony is poisoned with sentiment; I can laugh at the past but the laughter sticks in my throat. I certainly feel more af ...more
Muhammad Moneib
A Sentimental Yet Informative Journey to the Past

History and archaeology are such interconnected fields. Both are fascinating, filled with mystery and surprises about our ancestors and their long forgotten lives. Both tell us more about ourselves and give us lessons about our future. Still, both yield their fruits in the form of ruins and fragments, like separated dots on paper that a child has to connect in order to form the picture, or tiny traces of evidence a detective has to link together i
Oct 09, 2007 rated it really liked it

One of the most unique memoirs I've ever read, but then again, Luc Sante is one idiosyncratic and special writer. "The Factory of Facts" deal with Sante's childhood in his native country Belgium as well as New Jersey, his adopted home with his family. The beauty of the book is that Sante writes about culture as the foreground to his life. Although our lives are quite different, we are almost the exact age. Both of us were born in 1954, and I recognize his cultural posts throughout the book. What
Sep 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Luc Sante delves into his family history, his story, his formative years with honesty and humour and darkness that you can't stop. It is imaginative, visual, true, factual, surreal and touching. From the hidden places of Belgium to the half lie of living in America, his descriptions of his parents and photographs in particular (what we all read into them and what they can reveal to us about character) were incredible and spookily reminded me of the thinking I have when I look at images of my par ...more
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
There are passages in this book that capture more vividly than anything else I know what it is like to sit on the border between two cultures, to have two languages in different parts of one's being. I'm interested in Belgium, so I was particularly fascinated with the book, but most of it should strike a chord with anyone who has lived in two cultures. The book also presents a very vivid portrait of the 20th-century working class in one of the most industrialized parts of Europe, and its treatme ...more
Mar 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An odd but intriguing book that blends memoir and history (mostly about Belgium) on Sante’s theory that as individuals we are formed by historical accidents that take place long before we become sentient beings. As an approach it doesn’t quite work--the history segments tend toward didacticism--but when Sante is writing about himself and his family he shines as a stylist and a wry humorist. His thoughts about growing up in two languages and two cultures are compelling; the opening chapter is ori ...more
Dec 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in Belgium
I learned about the Walloon culture and language. I also learned what it was like to be an outsider in our culture.
This is an absolutely fascinating book of essays.
Caught my interest - Sante is an in-between person, a third-culture person writing about that experience.
Lovmelovmycats Hart
Dec 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography-memoir
Why did I love this book so much? I can't put my finger on it. It drew me in completely. I can't wait to read Low Life.
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Luc Sante was born in Verviers Belgium and emigrated to the United States in the early 1960s. Since 1984, he has been a teacher and writer, and frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books. His publications include Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York, The Factory of Facts and Folk Photography. He currently teaches creative writing and the history of photography at Bard College in Ne ...more
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