“The enduring myth of the American memoir as a precise form is bullshit and needed to go away,” James Frey told Vanity Fair in an upcoming profile — the “last interview” Ron mentioned earlier. “Although the experience was a nightmare, if I started the process of ending that myth, I’m perfectly fine with it. I’ve said all along that I never wanted my books published as memoirs.”
And wait — is there an echo in here? Alleged fake memoirist Augusten Burroughs, who’s also doing an image-rehab press tour in anticipation of his next book (his “first memoir in five years”), tells New York‘s Sam Anderson that the memoir genre has “spun out of control,” and that today’s “memoirs” are like inbred puppy-mill puppies.
It’s not like these two dudes are on the exact same page re: the whole ‘If you’re going to write a book about experiences you call your own, a book that people will buy because they relate to and sympathize with specific experiences you purport to have suffered through, it should be as truthful as possible’ issue, though.
“Burroughs says he rarely reads other memoirs, but when he does he expects the truth. ‘I find the privileged white girl writing about gangland morally corrupt,’ he says. ‘I have a problem with that. I would feel manipulated. JT LeRoy? I would feel really violated. People sort of think now, not ‘Do I have a story to tell?’ but ‘Can I think of a story I could write and call a memoir?’ And it’s unfortunate because it becomes the focus in the media …’”
Gosh, how unfortunate, right? How have we come to this pass?