June 23, 2004

Writing a great memoir.

I see Slate's Summary Judgment used brackets in the middle of the Clinton "My Life" title in pretty much the same way I did in that last post. I wouldn't have done it if I'd seen that they had done if first, but I hadn't seen it. It is a pretty obvious device. Sorry for any lameness ... lackluster lameness. And I had a bad link too (fixed now). Sorry.

I see Clinton is getting a lot of grief for writing a boring book. But what did people expect? If you want to read a great memoir, read a memoir by someone who is in a position to follow the number one rule for writing a great memoir: tell your story without a trace of personal vanity. You have to be willing to make the character that is you look foolish, mean-spirited, selfish, petty, and everything else. There is simply no way that Clinton or any other political figure can follow this rule. So if you want to read a good memoir, read Augusten Burroughs' "Running With Scissors" or Mary Carr's "Liars' Club." If you want to read about grand historical events, don't read the story told by one of the key figures. How could that possibly be good? It would make more sense to read this as a memoir of the Lewinsky-impeachment events.

2 comments:

Erin L. Delaney said...

I agree with creating your memoir without personal vanity. People have to see the "character" of the writer as real. And real people are imperfect. It is not fiction- it's not a representation of a real person...memoir is a real person.

Nice insight. Thanks!

Erin

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