This week’s question:
Which do you prefer? Biographies written about someone? Or autobiographies written by the actual person (and/or ghost-writer)?
I am a big fan of biographies; I like it when biographers examine various angles of a person’s life.
Autobiographies often don’t expose the warts, and what’s the fun in reading a sanitized version of things? Plus, while I appreciate the work done by ghost writers, I’m a bit put off by the idea. Kind of like how I feel about presidential speechwriters, whom I find fascinating but also somewhat disturbing. (I want the presidents to be eloquent all on their own!)
So, having said that, I’ll confess that I’m a one-book woman at the moment (a rare event indeed), and the book is Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journeys by Michael Collins. Yes, you guessed it: it’s an autobiography! But it is a ghost writer-free one, a claim made by Collins in the introduction, which I believe with my whole heart. The voice just plain sounds like him (based solely on excerpts from interviews I’ve heard, granted, but still).
I have slowed down my reading pace to savor it, which also is a rare thing for this highly-caffeinated person. And I don’t feel like reading anything else, not even the George Washington biography that’s staring at me from the shelf right now.
So I’ll qualify my first statement today by saying: Usually biographies, unless the once-a-decade autobiography comes along to dethrone them.