April 6, 2010
All Writing Is Autobiography
All writing is autobiography.
Fiction. Non-fiction. Quasifictional-semirealistic-self-congratualtory historical narrative. It's all autobiography.
Obviously memoir, journals, travelogues and a lot of bad poetry are autobiographical.
But what about auto-repair manuals?
They tell you the author is interested in (or just had to spend a lot of time learning about) cars.
Dictionaries? The editors are interested in (or paid a lot to think about) words or terms.
Book reviews? Well, sometimes especially book reviews. Consider the reviews on Amazon that excoriate classics. Jeanette Demain has selected a baker's dozen (minus three) examples of readers trashing the great writing of the world. Grapes of Wrath? Contrived. To Kill a Mockingbird? Sappy. Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl? Boring. Very, very, very, very . . . (you get the idea) boring.
Read each selection in Demain's piece and ask first, "What do you learn about the book?" Then ask, "What do you learn about the reviewer?" No doubt you have a lot more to say about the second question than the first.
And have you learned anything about me from this blog? Of course! It's autobiography.