When asked to offer his opinion on memoirs, Thomas DeMary, author of zero books, offered the following response.
*Note: we shouldn’t have asked him.
Over the New Year’s holiday, I started reading Nick Flynn’s memoir Another Bullshit Night In Suck City [goddamn, I love that title]. I should say I started reading it—again. Four years ago, I was halfway through it and, as it happens from time to time, I lost steam. Interest went poof and I moved on to something else—another crafty craft book crafted to help me get my groove back, I’m sure. And this was back when I hated memoir—but loved autobiographies. Is there is difference? I’m sure there is, in the way speculative fiction is different from sci-fi, but that’s not my point. To be fair, I had no reason to hate memoirs since, if memory serves me, Another Bullshit Night was the first memoir I read—provided that memoirs are different from autobiographies. I hated the idea of memoir, which is to say I was as needlessly ravenous over James Frey’s gaffe as the rest of the literary world, Oprahcons included. Which is to say, I never read A Million Little Pieces, just like the rest of the literary world, Oprahcons included. In fact, a copy of A Million Little Pieces is on my bookshelf. I didn’t buy it, however; my wife wanted to jump into the Frey foray. She never bothered. I don’t blame her; if you’ve seen all of the money shots, no need to watch a porn flick’s filler narrative. I’m sure an assistant professor, bespectacled and draped in tweed, adds A Million Little Pieces to his syllabus semester after semester, a sort of how-to or, more accurately, “don’t do what Donny Don’t does,”Â to quote The Simpsons. I’m not interested in the deeds of Donny Don’t; no one cares; even Donny Don’t moved on to more lucrative ventures [insert sneer here]. Nick Flynn, however, wrote a classic work—even I knew that much when I gave up on his book way back when. Sparse and detached, equal parts self-deprecation and an scathing perspective on his subjects: Flynn worked with the truth [whatever that is] and transformed it into art, literature, a fucking good story. Meanwhile, I tinker with carefully crafted depressive episodes, under the belief that mental/emotional illness is the price of the ticket, cost of admission, into the hall of mirrors called memoir. Stands to reason, upon further review. My father, to my knowledge, never slept under the glow of a lit, enclosed ATM. My father received his PhD at age fifty; no one wants to read a memoir on the rise-fall-rise of an educated black man from South Jersey. Now if I can turn my father into a monster—play up his Republican leanings, for example—I might have gold in my hands. Then again, my father is a Democrat. Nick Flynn’s father fretted over a novel he never wrote. To me, that was Flynn’s father at his most pathetic. “That’s not me, though”Â I said and closed Another Bullshit Night four years ago. New Year’s Day 2011, I opened it up and said, “Yes it is.”Â But I’ve said too much.