Too soon for a memoir?

Do you think there is an ‘amount’ of life that you need to have lived before you can write a memoir? I’m not talking a specific amount of years – there are 10 year olds out there who have ‘lived’ more than I have in my *ahem* more than 10 years – I’m talking about an amount and quality (or lack thereof as the case may be) of lived experiences. And is this amount lowered automatically if you are a celebrity?

We live in celebrity-obsessed times, and I am far from immune to this, but just because someone is famous doesn’t mean that their ordinary lives are suddenly less ordinary.

I recently read (and LOVED) Yes Please by Amy Poehler; I thought it was witty and interesting and poignant and just gossipy enough, without being an extended issue of Who Weekly. This was in stark contrast to Amy’s friend and peer, Tina Fey’s memoir, Bossypants, which I thought was terrible. Tina and Amy’s lives and careers have had very similar trajectories, but the quality and likability of their books couldn’t have been further apart.

The key difference, in my opinion, was that Amy seemed more realistic about what her book should be and what parts of her life would interest people. I thought that the way she treated the book almost as a self help book was genius – opinions about being a mother in show business, and a ‘girl in a man’s world’ – these are the things I’m interested in, not the average-at-best written tales about an unremarkable childhood that seemed to abound in Tina’s book. I also thought Tina held way too much of the good stuff back – celebrity memoirs should be honest and open about the industry and the people in it, because, let’s face it, what’s the point of a celeb memoir if you aren’t going to dish some dirt?

But just because I thought Bossypants was bad, doesn’t mean I think Tina Fey isn’t ‘worthy’ of writing a memoir – she definitely is – I had just hoped she’d have more to say. On the opposite side of the spectrum is Charlotte from the MTV reality show, Geordie Shore, who has just written a memoir. Here is someone that I wish had less to say. I mean, seriously. Why do we want to read about her life? Watching her life play out on on television is painful enough. I’ll admit though, in some ways, seeing her have a book out does give me hope – if someone as idiotic as her sees the value in books, then reading will never die!

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1 reply »

  1. I think memoirs are hard, and if the people who write them are not open, they can be disappointing for readers, no matter what age the people are who write them. However, and this is not about the two writers you mention, I have to say that I’ve heard comments from older women my age that they are tired of seeing twenty-year-olds writing memoirs before they even have anything to write about.

    Liked by 2 people

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