Not a Memoir
By Ander Monson
Graywolf Press, Paperback, 9781555975548, 191pp.
Publication Date: March 30, 2010
An adventurous exploration of the "I" in American culture, by the author of "Neck Deep and Other Predicaments"
"Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. "
In contemporary America, land of tell-all memoirs and endless reality television, what kind of person denies the opportunity to present himself in his own voice, to lead with "I"? How many layers of a life can be peeled back before the self vanishes?
In this provocative, witty series of meditations, Ander Monson faces down the idea of memoir, grappling with the lure of selfinterest and self-presentation. While setting out to describe the experience of serving as head juror at the trial of Michael Antwone Jordan, he can't help veering off into an examination of his own transgressions, inadvertent and otherwise. He scrutinizes his private experience of the public funeral ceremony for Gerald R. Ford. He considers his addiction to chemically concocted Doritos and disappointment in the plain, natural corn chip, and finds that the manufactured, considered form, at least in snacks, is ultimately a more rewarding experience than the "truth." So why is America so crazy about accurately confessional memoirs?
With "Vanishing Point," Monson delivers on the promise shown in "Neck Deep," which introduced his winning voice and ability to redefine the essay and "puts most memoirs to shame" ("Time Out Chicago").
Susan Stamberg gathers recommendations from booksellers Rona Brinlee, Lucia Silva and Daniel Goldin. Their selections for summertime reading include books about small-town America, a polygamist father in over his head, and a postmistress in New England during World War II. More at NPR.org
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