“Thoughts on Autobiography…” – by Janet Malcolm

A friend gave me a copy of an article from The New York Review of Books. The article is titled “Thoughts on Autobiography from an Abandoned Autobiography” and is written by journalist Janet Malcolm. Herein I quote one paragraph that was just too good not to share:

“Memory is not a journalist’s tool. Memory glimmers and hints, but shows nothing sharply or clearly. Memory does not narrate or render character. Memory has no regard for the reader. If an autobiography is to be even minimally readable, the autobiographer must step in and subdue what you could call memory’s autism, its passion for the tedious. He must not be afraid to invent. Above all he must invent himself [bolding mine]. Like Rousseau, who wrote (at the beginning of his novelistic Confessions) that “I am not made like anyone I have ever been acquainted with, perhaps like no one in existence,” he must sustain, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, the illusion of his preternatural extraordinariness.”

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