The Defoe of Robinson Crusoe and A Journal of the Plague Year has no ambition to signify novelistically or to have his pseudomemoirs classed as "art." In the flux of his true-seeming stories, intentions are concealed and unrecognizable, questions the non-form refuses by virtue of its opacity [...]. It is a virtue of his pseudomemoirs that they are almost infinitely conformable to what each reader thinks life is. Moll, Jack, H.F., and the Cavalier are in their widely accommodating ideological spaces like the speakers of naive memoirs Defoe intends them to resemble, and Defoe is the original "readerly" writer. While the psuedomemoir may be a trick, it is a wondrously skillful one. To see just how difficult Defoe's task is, it is only necessary to try to write a "novel" today that succeeds not only in seeming like a true story (the easier task) but also in fixing the attention of readers dull and acute, naive and sagacious, superficial and penetrating. It is as if Defoe found in the older factual literature and its imitations a principle of ambiguity that is itself stable: narrate in such a manner that nothing is predictable and nothing, once it happens, is at all unbelievable.
From Narrative Innovation and Incoherence by Michael Boardman. If I were to try to name recent novels that follow Defoe's model of pseudomemoirs that pass themselves off as more "real" than "novelistic," I can only think of two early Peter Carey books: Jack Maggs and True History of the Kelly Gang. Most of Carey's novels are quite novelistic, some overtly postmodernist. My own fictions, no matter how thick I decide at the time to make the veneer of "realism," are all plainly artificial, representation rather than presentation, all the elements chosen to interlock in a system of symbol and theme, blah blah blah. I grew up on myths and legends and fairy tales, all expressionist forms more or less, so that's what I think stories look like.