Truth or Fiction: Voting By Memoir
Memoirs have been a source of raging controversy. Seems some memoirs are more true than others. A memoirist makes a deal with the reader: what I tell you is real, and you judge me by my stories. I think about this way too much because I’m a memoirist. So when it came time to choose the next leader of these great United States, I dove into the wordpools of these memoirists who would be president. I started with John McCain’s The Way to Bravery. First off, McCain didn’t even write his memoir. And the book reads like it was written by the captain of the football team who had the smart kid do it for him. The facts are all there, but it’s generic as a can of beans with the word BEANS written on it. The book’s peppered with war stories, and he talks about America watching the Iraq invasion with shock, awe and a thrilling pleasure. It dawned on me as I read this book that the John McCain in this book is the archetypical American John Wayne male. A man who’d rather fight than talk.
Barack Obama did write his own memoir. Right off the bat, I like that. In the world of books we talk alot about voice. The voice in Dreams from My Father is so strong and personal. A scene in an airplane to Africa, home of Obama’s father, stuck in my mind. An Englishman bound for South Africa talks about the poor buggers of godforsaken Africa. Obama feels silent fury, but even in the midst of rage, emphasizes with the man and questions his own basic beliefs. If anything, this is a man too stuck in his own brain. But a man with poetry in his soul. He seems to be the model of the new American male. A thoughtful, sensitive international man of the world.
I have no clue how the economic plans of either candidate will dig us out of this gaping gasping chasm. But memoir wise, Obama feels the real deal, while McCain feels a fake. I’ve heard the pundits pundicate that the authentic maverick John McCain has let his true story be edited to the point of fiction, so that he doesn’t comes across like a man who wrote a memoir about courage. Obama, with his thoughtful, elegant prose, comes across like a man who’d rather talk and fight. A man true to his memoir.
David Henry Sterry is the best-selling author of nine books, an award-winning comic/actor, an activist, and a man who has not worn matching socks in 20 years. kept his first memoir, chicken, is being made into a TV series by Showtime. His new memoir, Master of Ceremonies: a True Story of Love, Murder, Roller Skates and Chippendales is the story of when he was at the epicenter of one of the great party cultures of all time, skating around in a tuxedo while Rome burned.