I’m curious to know whether my life would make a very good story. I would probably never consider writing a biography myself; first of all, I just don’t have the kind of ego to want to do that in the first place, and also I’m not sure anyone is interested in knowing. But what if something interesting did occur, or what if my life took a thrilling turn that would make some kind of titillating tale? Who should I choose to do the honors – a famous writer or celebrity? Another blogger?
FYI, this is what today’s Daily Post prompt is asking. To want to write one’s own biography is tricky; that goes back to the whole unreliable narrator issue that I mentioned in yesterday’s post about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Do we believe the things the autobiographer says, or are they colored by a conflict of interest in the retelling? Are those things being glossed over, softened up, rationalized by non-factual factors? Was it a hunting accident or a psychopathic act of revenge? This is probably why most biographies are written by third parties to the life of the book’s subject – they’re impartial, like an ideal judge and jury. They go on facts and build up a story and a case based on that.
So I would want a person who could actually make my life seem interesting to millions of people. This requires good, engaging writing. I’d want a writer with a voice that feels similar to my own, and that’s why I would probably choose Stephen King. Sure, I have to question my choice – am I copping out? It’s no secret that I’m a Stephen King fan. But it’s not a cop-out. Nobody writes like King, in my opinion. I mean, I certainly wouldn’t ask for Norman Mailer – he passed away six years ago, but his selling point was that he was fantastic at turning non-fiction into literary gold. I mean, if we’re going to write it we have to try and sell it, right? What’s worse is that I can’t ask for Kurt Vonnegut, because he died the same year Mailer did – only instead of a failed liver he fell down the stairs and bashed his head in… or was he pushed? That was a shame, because Vonnegut had this perfect storm of science fiction plus dark humor, and his sarcastic wit was always really well-timed. I’d have chosen Vonnegut over King in a heartbeat.
But it’s not like King is a last resort or something – it’s more like he’s graduated; as patronizing as that sounds, I think I mean to say that his work is becoming more mature without really changing its tone. It remains authentically King’s, but it’s staying with the times. It’s not the same old horror tropes that seemed to drop away in the mid-90’s, but his modern work speaks to modern sensibilities and still manages to entertain, to spark that sense of wonder and weirdness that he was always good at evoking, and not just entertaining but asking questions about the way we live today. That’s very cool, and that’s why I would choose him.
What do other bloggers say?