Those who enjoy delving into life stories may be interested in a recent New Yorker article, "The Lives of Others: The Biography Business" by Louis Menand (August 6, 2007).The article is actually a review of two books: Shoot the Widow by Meryle Secrest and Biography: A Brief History by Nigel Hamilton.
“The purpose of biography is not just to record, but to reveal,” Secrest, a biographer of such figures as Frank Lloyd Wright and Richard Rodgers argues.
Menand, on the other hand, argues that this philosophy tends to lead biographers to invert the truth, looking for one hidden letter that negates the true observations of friends and intimates.
Nigel Hamilton, in his book, suggests that biography is the “genre of democracy.” He believes by reading about the lives of others, individuals learn about themselves. The intimate details of the rich and famous somehow level the playing field – bringing a kind of social equality to the reader.
Are biographies your favorite form of reading? If so, let us know why.
For some bios to sample, here’s a few of the best:
Operation Yao Ming by Brook Larmer
Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power by Richard Carwardine
At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years: 1965-1968 by Taylor Branch
Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields
LBJ: The Architect of American Ambition by Randall B. Woods
Thursday, October 11, 7:30 PM
Civil War Lecture. Park ranger and historian Stacy Humphreys presents "The Washington Artillery of New Orleans: Creole Cannoneers in the Eastern Theatre." Cosponsored by the Bull Run Civil War Round Table. Centreville Regional Library, 703-830-2223.
Tuesday, October 16, 7:00 PM
What You Don't Know Can Keep You Out of College. Author and educational consultant Don Dunbar discusses common fatal mistakes made on college applications, plus offers insights on the admission process. Books available for sale and signing courtesy of Borders. Adults and high school students. Kings Park Library, 703-978-5600.