Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Autobiography/Biography: Narrating the Self

I went up to the Philoctetes Center last Saturday to see this roundtable discussion. Partly because I like biographies--generally speaking I'm less wild about memoirs and autobiographies--and partially because I loved Simon Winchester's two books that revolved around the creation of the OED. I thought it was a thought-provoking discussion, so if you're interested in the subject I totally recommend watching it here. (I think it's fantastic that they not only offer these events for free but also put video up on the Web. I wish I'd heard about them earlier.) 

I do, however, recommend turning it off before the audience Q & A starts. It was an interesting afternoon up until that point, but the questions were downright painful and if I hadn't been sitting so far from the door I would have left then and there. Honestly people, if your question is all about you no one in the audience really cares. That means if it requires a two-minute set-up in which you talk about the book you wrote 10 years ago and its critical reception, no one wants to hear it. Skip the personal stuff. If it all comes down to whether or not you should fire the editor you've hired because of a disagreement about ellipses, no one gives a shit. If it involves you wittering on about your opinions at length only to say, "Don't you agree?" at the end, that's not even a real question in the first place and you've only succeeded in showing off what an ass you are. Get a grip, folks.

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