The new book by music critic Marc Spitz, Poseur: A Memoir of Downtown New York City in the '90s, out this week from Da Capo Press, is a wistful, candid recounting of Spitz's struggles with career, love and drugs as he made his way into adulthood. The memoir's also enjoyable for its many anecdotes of downtown New York during the 90s, the time when Chloë Sevigny was coming off Kids, the actress Adrienne Shelly was the reigning indie queen, and Bennington graduates seemed to be everywhere. Spitz's anecdotes about the actors and musicians he meets have a wayward namedropping charm—they also, all together, form a fascinating portrait of the [...]
From time to time we offer our space to normal, every-day people with opinions to share.
The bottles clinking in the bottom of the stroller, the shame of my own special sippy cups I'd sneak in the pumping booth at the office: it was all too much for me, so I stopped drinking six hours ago. Earlier today I was an alcoholic mom with a secret; now, I'm a proud mom in recovery, who's learned from her mistakes, with the help of my partner, Brechlin [not his real name], who threw me out of the house late last night but let me back in earlier this morning. I'm all better! [...]
Wow, the delightful Grace Coddington, the creative director at Vogue, has turned back time to 1996 or 2004 or somewhere in there and allegedly sold a memoir to Random House for the low seven figures: the Observer is saying $1.2 million. Now this is a book I would read! (Like, when they send me the galley. I'm not saying I'd buy it.) This is a book that perhaps, maybe, you would read—loving, as you do, Condé Nast intriguers and swinging London in the 60s and various accounts of eccentricity. And, but, well… did she even kill anyone and/or become a prostitute? (I mean… perhaps she did! And/or will [...]
"[T]here are good reasons to embark on a memoir: the world and the self collide in a particular way that only you, or mostly you, can narrate; you would like a preemptive grab at controlling the discourse. For instance: Are you Winston Churchill? Are you Nixon in China? Are you Pat Nixon in China? Did you compose Nixon in China? (Its composer, John Adams, has in fact written an engaging memoir.) Are you connected to a fascinating and underexplored chapter in history in any manner whatever? Are you a professional storyteller with a beautiful prose style and some autobiography begging for reportage? Are you a trenchant thinker with incisive [...]
The reasonable answer, never really revealed but apparent in all the details in this review of former Conde Nast editrix Dominique Browning's new memoir, appears to be, as always: a cushion of money.
The Unofficial, Unpublished Introduction To An Unfinished Memoir That You Totally Knew Existed, Discovered by Liz Colville
"Committed is an unfurling of [Elizabeth] Gilbert's profound anxiety about reÃ«ntering a legally binding arrangement that she does not really believe in. All this ambivalence, expressed in her high-drama prose, can be a lot to handle. (One generally doesn't indulge another person's emotional processing at this length unless the jabbering is likely to conclude with sex.)" -Ariel Levy, The New Yorker, Jan. 11, 2010.
Here I am again, alone in the world, like a newborn baby coated in an amniotic layer of guilt. When I started writing this book, I thought it was going to be about the children that I was finally-finally!-going to have with my second husband, [...]
"And then there was the matter of how they talked. My parents and their friends spoke this exotic language very slowly. There were other odd things. For instance, they often slept standing up, and this group narcolepsy could strike right in the middle of the most dynamic conversation. Someone would start a sentence: 'Those ofay cats bopping out on the stoop are blowin’ like Birrr . . . ' and suddenly the words would begin to come out slower. And. Slower. Soon they wouldn’t be speaking at all. Eventually our living room would be filled with black and white hipsters suspended in time and space, while I ran through the [...]
When I started hacking you were just one layer above the bare metal. You were typing into this wonderful emptiness, waiting to be populated with minds. A few of us were interested in projecting our thoughts into the computer to make it do something new. We began writing codes and we began cracking them, too…. It was certainly addictive. You'd dive down into a computer system – typically, for me at the time, the Pentagon's 8th Command Group computers. You'd take it over, projecting your mind all the way from your untidy bedroom to the entire system along the halls, and all the while you're learning to understand [...]
Inexplicable east coast elite media obsession and former assistant Jon-Jon Goulian—"another of the season's publishing darlings"! "the cross-dressing literary sensation"! "a kind of mascot for the city’s literary A-list"! says the New York Times, in three different articles, apart from his memoir's two reviews in the paper—is apparently a $700,000 bust for Random House. "The book has sold 957 copies in its first month, according to sources with access to Nielsen BookScan, which monitors 50 to 75 percent of total sales. Insiders say Random House would have to move about 200,000 copies to see a profit. The hardcover was ranked at a lowly No. 116,210 on Amazon yesterday," [...]
In the most-recent New York Times Book Review came an attack on the memoir. Well, technically it was an attack on the memoir written by anyone outside the circle of the “memoir-eligible.” It goes: "There was a time when you had to earn the right to draft a memoir," and then proceeds to savage three recent memoirs. The author, Neil Genzlinger, yearned for a now-distant day, when “unremarkable lives went unremarked upon, the way God intended."
“Who does he think he is?” said Natalie Goldberg, memoirist and author of the Writing Down the Bones and the recent Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir, calling [...]
"He's recently appeared in all the publications that matter, including a featured excerpt in New York Magazine, and a photo shoot in Vogue that makes him look exactly like the very healthy, very handsome preppy power bottom that he was, is, but claims he never thought he'd be." -The number of people who are angry about and horrified by agent turned crack addict turned memoirist Bill Clegg is large!
Yes. It is that sacred day. May I point out that Ms. Hearst's memoir, Every Secret Thing, is an absolutely excellent read. Really terrific. Me and John Waters will be all snuggled up, rereading it tonight. Not together, sad to say. [Warning: Memoir is written by a woman, is in the first person and includes details about her sex life.]
The year was 2007. Broken-hearted after the New Orleans Saints lost to Chicago in the NFC Championship game, I flew out to Los Angeles to hang out with my best friend from college, Doug. Doug was doing grad work in marine biology at USC. A smart guy, even if he was from Jersey. But even more impressive than his brains and his fancy science trips to Antarctica and his ability to laugh off my global-warming denialism without slapping me, were his drinking and football-watching skills. Also, for a sciency, white-trash sort from New Jersey, he ran with a Hollywood crowd.
Composer and East Village legend Philip Glass has sold a memoir, to Norton's Liveright & Company. Word on the street has it that the text is extremely repetitive but amazingly modulated. (Alternate joke: his studio staff is just going to run around the office and pick up a bunch of scraps he's left behind and stitch them into a complete manuscript. (Well? God bless!)) No but seriously, love you, Mr. Glass!
In this new episode of Cooking the Books: Bryan Charles, the fantastically tall author of There's a Road to Everywhere Except Where You Came From: A Memoir, comes to Emily Gould's home-studio kitchen to make chicken. Oh, but not just any chicken! Plus, you can read an excerpt.
Cooking the Books is directed by Valerie Temple and shot and edited by Andrew Gauthier. You can see all the Cooking the Books episodes here or even subscribe via iTunes. Previously: Juicing with Jon Cotner and Andy Fitch; Sigrid Nunez Makes Szechuan Green Beans; Emma Rathbone Makes Strawberry Wafer [...]
This morning the New York Times hinted that Dick Cheney was still working on his memoir, even while he decides whether to get a heart transplant. Well, that makes sense: because while it was originally slated for this spring, we've learned that Dick Cheney's memoir will now not arrive until August 30th of this year. Cheney will find himself in good company. Other books from the Simon and Schuster imprint, Threshold Editions, to be released this year include, in July, Pamela Geller's The Post-American Presidency, which "critically examines the Obama administration’s ominous and revealing moves against our basic freedoms, particularly as he seizes control of the three [...]
I just couldn't stop myself. I knew that after the third or fourth page, I'd feel sickened, queasy. Paranoid even. Reading the drug memoir would make me not only feel rotten inside, but I'd keep looking over my shoulder as I huffed down each page, convinced that strangers were watching me, judging me, mocking me. They probably were. And it wasn't just the terrible use of present tense. But I just couldn't get enough. I'd done it before. I've missed first-class flights to Europe, and quit my job on a whim, and had sex with cab drivers and even hung out with black people just to read more $350,000-advance memoirs [...]
Once upon a time, our pal Julie Klausner went on a date with a man she'll call "Rob." This relationship is among quite a few quite vividly covered in her new nonfiction book, I Don't Care About Your Band, which is out today. Just now! This is where you can buy it on Amazon. Go ahead, we'll wait. You should know that this book's subtitle is "What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Felons, Faux-Sensitive Hipsters, and Other Guys I've Dated." Highly descriptive, and also accurate! Anyway, back to Rob. We were quite taken with this excerpt because she manages to both memoir and [...]