25 November 2009

The Palin memoir

We are advised by the front page of today’s edition of The Age that Sarah Palin’s memoir, Going Rogue, has become one of the best-selling non-fiction books, selling 300,000 copies in one day.

What I want to know is, who decided that it was non-fiction? As my late friend Alex Buzo wisely observed, autobiography is a form of literature “with greater recognition given to the author” (see Alex Buzo, A Dictionary of the Almost Obvious, Text Publishing, Melbourne, 1998.

Other examples:

- Bill Clinton’s My Life (is there some deep metaphysical reason why he gave his autobiography the same name as Trotsky’s – Моя Жиэнь?)

- The Peter Costello book. Even the name of the author is fictitious – his father-in-law wrote it: it’s “Peter Costello with Peter Coleman”. Buzo foresaw all this in 1998:

 – Most autobiographies were the work of ghost writers, then came the ‘as told to’ brigade, and now, finally, ‘with’.  

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