Tuesday, August 02, 2005

our times, our lives

I've always been a sucker for reading personal essays, collected letters or diaries. The English must be, too, because it is quite common there to publish these. The biography section in the Waterstone bookstores (sadly, I came across less used bookstores or independent bookstores during this trip, the economics of the day reducing them there as in this country) were full of such books, as well as the celebrity bios and stories common in our big box bookstores.

As a reader, I am quick to avoid cautionary tales, something that is characteristic of many American memoirs (I was bad. Life was bad. Specific people were mean to me. I hit bottom. This experience was torture. I survived). The other kind I usually don't read are ghost-written books, hagiographies to the self.

I am much more interested in descriptions of places, in personal reactions to others, in literate examples of what it means to live in a specific time and place.

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