I am not usually a fan of autobiographies. Obviously by the very definition, what you are dealing with is one side of the tale; one side of the facts. I understand there will be a demand for autobio’s of hugely well known or popular figures, leaders in their field, do-gooders and Jordan, but I have always shied away from – well from exactly the two autobiographies we have had to read for our course. I have just finished John Burnside’s A Lie About My Father and I also read Janice Galloway’s This is Not About Me.
Part of my problem is that I find this ‘memoir’ type of writing terribly self indulgent…and, I hate to say it because I feel mean doing so, but well…boring. I dont know these people and I find it hard to understand why they would want to share that much of themselves with perfect strangers. That is not to say no one should write memoirs but ought they to be published? Couldn’t it remain a personal exercise; a purge and cleanse? Or simply an exercise in writing? Everyone I know, including myself, has some family sadness, embarrassment, tragedy, mishap or downright dysfunction, with a plethora of cupboards kept for the sole use of skeletons. There is always a villain and a victim. Always a misunderstanding. Always more than three interpretations of the facts and the events. People take sides, indeed it can all become just too much! If I can get bored and exasperated with my own history, why on earth would I want to read about someone else? Someone I don’t even know?
Saying that; and I do concede that I am perhaps shortsighted in this field, I thoroughly enjoyed John Burnside’s writing and I have put this novel pretty high on my reading list.