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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

about a life...

I'm currently reading Eudora Welty: a Biography by Suzanne Marrs. Welty resisted autobiographical and biographical works for years, but in 1998 gave Marrs permission to write an account of her life. While I find the work interesting in many ways--Welty was not the provincial, staid, sheltered individual she is often thought to have been--somehow the biography still manages to maintain a dry distance around this complicated woman. "Just the facts, ma'm" is the way it reads. Not that the facts aren't interesting, but they don't reverberate, don't resonate the lively way I imagine the woman herself did. I'm only on page 189 and the book is nearly 600 pages, so I'm hoping for more in the pages to come.

Also reading golden boy: Memories of a Hong Kong Childhood by Martin Booth. Here is a link to his obituary in The Guardian. Already enchanted by the Author's Note and few pages I've read so far.

As many of you do, I enjoy biographies and memoirs. Favorites include May Sarton's various journals and Doris Grumbach's Coming into the Endzone. I read these several years ago and was fascinated with the way these women dealt with aging.

Have always loved historical characters and their biographies. The Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser is a favorite.

Which "real" people do you enjoy reading about? What biographies and memoirs call to you?


  1. Last summer I read 'Balzac and the Little Seamstress' and it prompted me to read 2 memoirs/biographies about the Cultural Revolution in China. The first was 'Red Scarf Girl' and the second was 'Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China.' All three books let great insight into the sufferings of the people under Mao's reign. I was very glad I had read them.

  2. Hi! Thanks for visiting my blog ;)

    In regards to biographies, I tend to be attracted to those authors who have sort of had a hard-knock life, particularly those who have overcome adversity, abuse, or awkward teenage years. Now that I think about this, I'm not sure why I'm attracted to these sort of biographies. Glutton for punishment maybe?

    I put Golden Boy on my wishlist :) Looking forward to learning your final thoughts on it.

  3. Forgot to mention that I'm looking forward to reading 'Golden Boy'. Sounds good.

  4. I've read several biographies on Theodore Roosevelt, who was a very odd person, but also extremely gifted. A very interesting life.

  5. Booklogged- Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress inspired me to read several fictional accounts of the Cultural Revolution, but your suggestions are going on my TBR list.

    Amelia- Whose memoirs have you enjoyed?

    Framed-Yes, I'd say Teddy did live an interesting life! I think I'd enjoy reading his biography. Do you have a particular favorite?