Mar 3, 2009

Breaking: Memoirist Actually a Novelist. Again.

So, one more "memoir" is revealed to be full of errors and outright lies. Why is anybody surprised by this (if anybody is)? There's no such thing as a memoir. There are autobiographical novels that admit they are autobiographical novels--by changing names and circumstances and showing up on fiction shelves in bookstores--and there are autobiographical novels that try to take advantage of our talk-show and reality-TV-inspired hunger for oversharing and self-mythologizing by staking a (transparently disingenuous) claim to literal truth. These are what we call memoirs. Anybody who reads a memoir expecting it to be true is a willing dupe.

Maybe if publishers weren't so concerned about authors having a "platform" as a way to drive sales (a strategy with dubious results), this wouldn't happen. "Dear Mr. Pynchon, we find your novel interesting and colorful, but these kinds of World War II stories don't sell particularly well unless the author has a platform..."

Here endeth the rant.
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