At the moment I am picking through Gary L. Comstock’s Religious Autobiographies, an anthology of abridged examples of the eponymous genre. It has made me want to write my own religious memoir, since my own story is one I wish I could have read ten years ago. I therefore wrote a rough draft for NaNoWriMo; I don’t know whether I’ll have an opportunity to publish it anywhere. More than this, however, it has made me want to read other people’s religious autobiographies. I dislike novel-length autobiographies, which I find tend to bog down in details which I cannot link together or tend not to warrant their length, but these briefer and more focused autobiographies are much more revealing. At least, I am better able to make sense of them when they are more specifically curated.
So here is the daydream: I would love to read more collections of shorter autobiographies on a common theme. Religious autobiographies especially appeal to me, but I am sure there are other types which would satisfy me even if I cannot imagine the genre now. A variation or specification on the religious autobiography occurred to me a few days ago as I read Richard Beck’s post on his recent spiritual shift: it might be interesting if autobiographers oriented their pieces towards what they imagine or hope their future might entail, what things they need or want to work on. Let me know if you have any recommendations; let me know, too, if you want to be part of an autobiography project of some kind.
My nine Friends on Facebook.
Biographical writing in general is on my mind lately. On Facebook, I look at the nine Friends to appear on the side of my Profile page to assess whether those nine people would make good interview subjects for a hypothetical biographer writing about my life; if I could choose nine people myself, which nine would I choose? My friend Jon Wong used to talk about chain-biography projects: Jon would write my biography, I would write Alice’s biography, Alice would write Bob’s biography, and so on, until Eve writes Jon’s biography, and then all of these biographies are published in the same volume. Is there a way to write a biography in a more experimental fashion than is typical: out of order, maybe, switching between the subject’s life and the subject’s precursors, as in Wade Davis’s One River?
I keep coming back to the biography subplot in the third season of House of Cards, where author Tom Yates is fixated on his commission to write President Frank Underwood’s biography. House of Cards’s third season was not a very strong one, but that plot thread fascinated me: I suppose I had somehow believed authorized biographers were mercenary writers, and that might often be the case, but I suppose it is as good a genre as any for authors to push their craft.
Today my aunt asked where I would live if I somehow came into sixteen million dollars: enough to buy and maintain a house anywhere I wanted, without any worries about work. I am sure she just wanted to know whether I’d prefer to live in Vancouver or Toronto, but sixteen million dollars is a lot of money and I’d have bigger dreams than just one house…