Christa Wolf, the exemplary writer and dissident from the expired dictatorship of East Germany, was living in Santa Monica in 1992-93, aged 64, working on a novel and conducting a characteristically “ruthless self-examination” about holding onto a belief in the unrealized possibilities of East Germany. READ MORE >>
Is writing a memoir like murdering your family?
The archive, indispensable to the historian, may prove an unreliable ally of the memoirist. This is the case in Alexander Stille’s sprawling effort to comprehend, catalog, and memorialize three generations—including his own—of his family. READ MORE >>
A couple of years ago, David Shields hit something of a nerve with the publication of Reality Hunger: A Manifesto. It was made up of 618 short entries, some his own but most collected elsewhere. Only his publisher’s lawyers compelled him to cite the sources, which ranged from Walter Benjamin to Jennifer Jason Leigh. READ MORE >>
CHINUA ACHEBE’S FAMOUS first novel, Things Fall Apart, conspicuously borrows from Yeats. The memoir with which he bookends his long career, There Was a Country, is a far more literal explanation of what happens when “the center cannot hold.” READ MORE >>
IT’S NOT HARD to comprehend why politicians’ memoirs usually appear after their careers are over. With not much to do and with a legacy to shape, politicians can get a jump-start on their lionization, presenting early defeats that steeled them for triumph (Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher) or rehashing debates with colleagues whom they blame for all their mistakes (Tony Blair, Donald Rumsfeld, and many more). Sometimes, though not too often, they are actually fun to read. READ MORE >>