A brighter shade of truth

A story doesn't have to be true to be a true story.

If you're someone who drops in on these pages regularly, you may recall coming across that phrase once before. You may recall the tale we told you about Ernest Hemingway and his singular approach to revealing the truth through plain and direct language; an apocryphal tale, possibly, but a good one nonetheless.

Now listen: we want to tell you another story.

This is a story about a place in America that's as real as the town or city in which you live...but you'll never find it on a map. This is a story about people -- men, women and children -- who are as alive as you are, who share the same dreams and joys and fears as you do, whose strengths and frailties and failures and triumphs are the ones that you see in the lives of your loved ones and in the reflected eyes of the person who returns your gaze from the mirror...but not a single one of these people has ever drawn a breath, nor will they.

We present to you an exercise in creative nonfiction: the story of a small town that exists, in one way or another, in every state in America -- and of the people who live there, and who struggle each day for dignity and hope in a hopeless place.

With plain and direct language, with emotional reality and intellectual honesty, we present to you the story of their lives.

This story is called "At the edge of the lake" -- and it is the first of several that we will bring to you between now and the end of the year, as part of an ongoing, long-form communications project aimed at exploring the possibilities of shining a brighter light on the truth through the creation of author-driven narratives.

A story doesn't have to be true to be a true story.

And this one is as true as they get.