2007-05-16

Biographies

I like very few biographies (auto or otherwise). Actually, now that I come to think of it, I read very few biographies. They simply don't tempt me. I stride right by the biography section in the bookstore or library without it even registering in my field of vision. Kinda like true crime, romance, sports, self-help (well, I do notice self-help. I point and laugh at it a bit and move on), interior design, astrology, and graphic novels.

I only go for biographies of people I'm already completely captivated (obsessed?) by. Usually writers. Here are some I've read and loved:
- By Heart: Elizabeth Smart a Life, by Rosemary Sullivan
- Experience, Martin Amis
- Moab Is My Washpot, Stephen Fry
- Speak, Memory, Vladimir Nabokov
- Inside Memory: Pages from a Writer's Workbook, Timothy Findley

But if I don't already know you and love you...meh. Don't want to read about you.

Ahem. We were assigned an autobiography at book club last week. Not going to say what it is yet. I'll give it a chance: it might be good. I will read it cheerfully. I still owe them one for Confederacy of Dunces.

And maybe I will find that I can be captivated by the life story first, and the life's work second.

9 comments:

Mark Hanington said...

I haven't written one yet. When do you need it by?

fiona-h said...

ha ha!! You still have a month - get to work.

Mark Hanington said...

Try Truman by David McCullough. It's a brilliant, very engaging, very thorough biography of a man little-known, by a man very well known.

I know David, too. If you read the book I'll tell yu funny stories about David McCullough.

Kirsten said...

What about ones that are funny?
David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs, David Rakoff, Martin J Troost? I love all of them.

Zootenany Hoodlum said...

You know,your comment about self-help books was very interesting. What's wrong with them? I ask this seriously. It occurred to me the other day that one day Jessie would have a boyfriend. She thinks it's going to be GREAT! She thinks love and marriage are going to be GREAT! They're work, kid! This led me to think (and blog) about how we have sex education but no relationship education. No one professionaly (and oftern personally) telling us how to navigate the path of romantic relationships. How to be, really, a good partner and alos how ot make sure we have a good partner in return. How to work togehter on that with our partner. etc. It was a long thought apparently.

In my life, I have navigated all the crap alone, and look how well I have done!

Then I remembered there are books that address this, with more or less success. Some are good and some are hoakie, much like teachers and books on other subjects. Self-help books do. We dismiss them out of turn - we point and laugh - but they exist, some of them quite well, some of them helping other people (I don't read them, too smug and superior of course, wouldn't let them help ME on any path!) navigate their paths. (Paths of relationships, spirituality, work success, substance abuse and recovery.)

So I am divorced having never read a book on relationships. Why am I too clever to read a self-help book? Why does that make me smart or superior?

What's wrong with them?

fiona-h said...

ooh- you're right, K! Somehome I didn't even think of those as biographies although of course they are. Love them too. Esp. DS.

fiona-h said...

and I have to think too hard to reply to zoot. she's prolly right too...

rwp said...

Yes, but what book were you assigned?!?

Molly said...

I don't consider memoirs to be autobiographies. Hair-splitting, I know, but the latter should make a stronger attempt at factual reporting and so often the truth gets in the way of a good story.
I liked Confederacy of Dunces! But I'm betting my book group would hate it, not even try to finish the book.
You want to get your group all pissed off at you though, make them read Fortress of Solitude. Best book I've read in years, but try and tell that to my book group buddies.