Neil Genzlinger reviewed four new memoirs in the January 30, 2011, edition of the New York Times Book Review. He subtitied it, “A moment of silence, please, for the lost art of shutting up.”
Genzlinger insists that way too many people are writing memoirs, which is something I’ve noticed. I mean, Justin Bieber wrote his memoirs! And Patrick Buchanan, who served with a bunch of presidents, hasn’t?
Memoirs have been disgorged by virtually everyone who has ever had cancer, been anorexic, battled depression, lost weight. By anyone who has ever taught an underprivileged child, adopted an underprivileged child, or been an underprivileged child. By anyone who was raised in the ’60s, ’70s or ’80s, not to mention the ’50s, ’40s or ’30s. Owned a dog. Run a marathon. Found religion. Held a job.
He then lays down four guidelines for memoirist wannabes, and illustrates each point with his review of a memoir.
- 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.
If you have an eclectic love for books, you might appreciate this cleverly crafted piece.