This critique from the New York Times resonated with us. It speaks to our culture of celebrity, combined with a decreased barrier to entry for those who wish to share. Witness this blog and millions of others, the world of social networking, and of course publishing. The memoirs cited in the article are actually among the more elite and select, in that they have passed muster with publishers, agents and the retail book market.
The writer Neil Genslinger, suggests a few guidelines that we are summarizing here:
– That you had parents and a childhood does not of itself qualify you to write a memoir.
– No one wants to relive your misery.
– If you’re jumping on a bandwagon, make sure you have better credentials than the people already on it.
– If you still must write a memoir, consider making yourself the least important character in it.
and his closing paragraph is a gem: “If you didn’t feel you were discovering something as you wrote your memoir, don’t publish it. Instead hit the delete key, and then go congratulate yourself for having lived a perfectly good, undistinguished life. There’s no shame in that.”
Whether or not his wise thoughts will cause more than one individual to refrain from their own memoir we shall never know. But his wise take on our culture of self-revelation is worth serious consideration.