Friday, December 30, 2016

The hazards of biography

After reading a few biographies of well-known writers that left me liking the subjects less than I did beforehand, I began to ask myself whether it's possible for this not to happen. Generally we come to know writers through their work; we see the polished product. In a sense, we're seeing the best the writer has to offer. But any biography will acquaint us with the writer's flaws, sins, and worst moments as well. This is even true of writers who write memoir. After all, memoir is not autobiography, and what's included in a memoir is carefully chosen--not so much to make the writer look good, but to show us the world through that writer's perspective. Seeing the writer through a different perspective may be jarring.

But then, I don't need to like a writer to enjoy his or her work. There are several writers who sound, quite frankly, like pains in the neck IRL, but whose books still move me and entertain me. And who's perfect, anyway?

1 comment:

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