Recapitulations Buy from other retailers

Publication Date: Jul 25, 2017

400 pp


List Price US: $30.00

ISBN: 978-1-59051-593-8

Trim Size: 6.31 x 9.29 x 1.30 in.


List Price US: $13.99

ISBN: 978-1-59051-594-5


List Price US: $17.95

ISBN: 978-1-59051-838-0

Trim Size: 5.50 x 8.20 x 1.10 in.


A Memoir

I am laughing at myself—but not without irony, I hope, since I’m also assuming a platform and conscripting you, my readers, as interlocutors. It is easier to throw away a book than extract yourself from a conversation that depends on face-to-face encounters to continue. The thought is depressing. Baring narcissists like Anaïs Nin, who can’t imagine anyone not being enchanted by their story, most autobiographers and memoirists have to give their life a raison d’être that transcends it. They are looking to produce something exemplary — a moral-allegory, pedagogical, a revelation of the workings of history or society, satirical, or spiritually illuminating — in other words, something meaningful and, acknowledged or not, transformative. (Of course, there are life stories that are simply meant to be entertaining.) The autobiography is directed at someone else, the reader, whose real or imagined response will not only transform him but will turn back on the autobiography giving it meaning or, I suppose, rendering it meaningless, by obliterating the “storiness” of the story, the gap between the story and the life as lived, the lived life. An autobiography strives to resurrect that life, but is destined to fail, if only because, like Narcissus, seduced by his own image, the autobiographer is seduced by his or her story. To resist that seduction is to recognize the artifice of the endeavor, its inevitable deceits and elaborations — its fictionalization.

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