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November 28, 2011 |
To the host:
Do you have plans to write a memoir? I hope so!
Minnesotans don't produce great memoirs, Doug. Hubert Humphrey's had some good stuff in it, mostly about his boyhood and his dad, a pharmacist in South Dakota who loved opera, but then the boy became ambitious and successful and success knocked the life out of the memoir. It went dead, boinggggg. Dylan's CHRONICLES was interesting but seemed oddly impersonal. Fitzgerald wrote some memoiristic essays, collected in THE CRACK-UP, that are impressive but fragmentary. New Yorkers do a better job of it. Cheever's JOURNALS is one of the great pieces of American prose writing ever. Just finished reading Harry Belafonte's memoir MY SONG, Doug, which is a terrific book, I think, very honest and probing, lots of memorable scenes, a classic story of a poor boy who becomes fabulously successful and then must deal with his demons, and one comes away from it with admiration for the writer's hard work assembling all the pieces and mostly avoiding self-aggrandizement. Mr. Belafonte moved in much grander circles than I, Hollywood, Las Vegas, European tours, in and out of various White Houses, and any memoir I wrote would not travel too far from Anoka, Minnesota, and the Sanctified Brethren and the streets of St. Paul. I can't write a memoir unless I feel I can do justice to all three and to the people who've passed through my life. I wish I could do them justice. Edward Hoagland wrote a great book, SEX AND THE RIVER STYX, in which, I think, he did some justice to his own life. If I thought I could write a book as good as his, I'd start work on it tomorrow.