I’ve found picaresque writing great fun to edit. And it’s immensely gratifying when a client develops a readership for this sort of material. Such is the case with client Mike Hartner’s “I” series. It’s important for readers to recognize that a work of fiction can closely follow all the extant historical strictures, such as Gore Vidal’s BURR, or loosely tag along behind history via a picaresque tale the likes of Cervantes’ DON QUIXOTE or Mike Hartner’s “I” characters and events.
How tightly or loosely a novel follows history is one of the fun aspects of writing fiction. However crucial for readers to recognize what they are reading, and I don’t believe this is always the responsibility of the writer to clarify up front. If a writer is claiming historical accuracy but doesn’t deliver, this is a different matter entirely–from Don Quixote’s benefiting from one spectacular adventure after another or Benvenuto Cellini’s pulling off unending miraculous feats.
My point is that no one has to read very far into either Cervantes’ or Cellini’s material to know that these stories are picaresque and therefore farcical. Hence, enjoy Michener and Twain, knowing the way each brilliant author treated historical reference, and don’t try to make one the other, ha ha.