Monday, 23 July 2012

This is your life?

Not sure what it is with me and (auto)biographies lately. I tend to think they're a vain kind of writing. 

Of all the subjects to write about, people write about their life as if we actually cared.  

Yet in a bizarre twist of fate, over the last year or so I've started to become quite interested in them. Since last summer, I've read:
  • Motley Crüe: The Dirt 
  • Marilyn Manson: The Long, Hard Road Out of Hell 
  • Steven Tyler: Does the Noise in my Head Bother You? 
  • A Book About innocent: Our Story & Some of the Things We've Learned
  • Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time
  • Onwards: How Starbucks Fought for its Life Without Losing its Soul
  • My Dark Places, by James Ellroy
  • I, Partridge: We Need to Talk About Alan by Alan Partridge
That's three rock (auto)biographies, three business ones, a comedy one and a part-autobiography part-crime investigation, and still I'm thirsty for more (keep your eyes peeled for Keith Richards's Life, Karren Brady's Strong Woman and Walter Isaac's Steve Jobs going cheap for me, would you!).

Life begins at...? 
My disillusionment with the genre stems from seeing bookshops littered with biographies and autobiographies by people who have barely been in showbiz 5 minutes yet feel compelled to tell the whole world their story. Take Jedward - barely out of school and they'd already published a book about their lives! It's dumbed down the genre.

I've enjoyed the above (auto)biographies - except for the Marilyn Manson one! - because the subjects have had interesting life experiences and ideas worth discussing. The point of biographical writing is for someone to look back on their career, on their achievements and low points (and how they came back from the latter!) and share some of the magic behind it all. 

To my mind, these days, the memories don't even have time to begin before the memoirs are already being published. But maybe I should get with the programme and think about writing my own memoirs?

What do you think? Do you think biographical writing has somehow lost its purpose?

No comments:

Post a Comment