How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
The short essays that make up Alexander Chee’s accessible volume How to Write an Autobiographical Novel are full to the brim with feeling, and don’t make for a simplistic portrait. It’s more of a Picasso- different angles showing a complex identity. This isn’t an instruction manual for writing autobiographically. This collection shows one person’s experiences over decades that ended up producing an author.
For those who are writers, or those who are interested in the writing process because they love reading, there’s much to take away from this book. There’s also intense material on queer activism at the height of the AIDS crisis in San Francisco, thoughts on growing up Asian and mixed-race in America, romance, and family. The book contains moments of joy and trauma and growth.
You can jump around this book looking for the material that’s most obviously related to your own interests, but you’ll do well to read all of it, and reflect on the many things that make up your own identity.
About the Author
"What would you read to someone who was dying? Annie Dillard had asked our class. She wanted this to be the standard for our work. There, at the memorial service for my friend, I thought of another: Dying, what stories would you tell?"—Alexander Chee, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays