Let's Get Fucked Up (And Write a Memoir About It)

For those of you who are unsure of where to turn in your literary careers, I've always thought the shortest point between obscurity and a book contract was pretty straightforward: get addicted to something or someone, get un-addicted, write a book about it. Or, to simplify and generalize: get into some kind of fucked up situation, get yourself out, write a book. Laugh all the way to the bank.

Does it have to actually happen? Dude, let's not be naive: we all know the answer to that question.

Now our buddies at Entertainment Weekly make it easy by providing This Handy Dandy Guide to the Fucked Up Stuff That Other Fucked Up People Have Already Written "I'm Fucked Up But I'm Not As Fucked Up Anymore (About That One Thing, At Least) and I Have, In a Manner of Speaking -- Yes, Motherfuckers -- Overcome" Fucked Up Memoirs About.

God, I hate memoirs. Seriously. It's too goddam easy. You're 23 and you're publishing you're fucking memoirs? Bullfuckingshit.

Tell me, Augusten Burroughs: how can you be 43 years old and have five fucking memoirs? Seriously, isn't that the slightest bit embarrassing? Not that you're that fucked up, but that you're that much a whore that you're just plain making shit up. That's, hmmm, let me do the math: one memoir per 8 years. Yeah, um, okay.

Come on, dude. Isn't it obvious at some point that you're either (a) totally making shit up, (b) totally writing a book about every single thing that ever happened to you, like "Slushie: My Trip to the 7-11 the Other Day," or (c) all of the above?

I will answer that question: yes, yes it is. And it is lame. It is embarrassing. It has to stop working, right? Right?

That is all.


jill alexander essbaum said...

Oh wow, I'm so horny for a Coca-Cola flavored Slurpee from 7-11 now.

But there are no Slurpees in Switzerland. Not a one.

And I ain't even making that up.

TMC said...

Here's where I totally highlight my hypocrisy.

I regret to confess that the book on which I just spent the last year-- and which I'm now trying to sell-- could probably technically be classified as a memoir.

I know. This may result in my removal from the blog. But hear me out here.

It's only a memoir insofar as it includes me and real life experiences. But it could also be qualified as a series of essays, I think, and they're all more or less about football, watching football, and obsessing over football.

I've always hated the whole creative nonfiction thing. And I've always hated people who write memoirs about stupid shit. But, every time I sat down to write over the past year and a half, all I had was this stuff. So even now, when people ask what I'm working on, I do a lot of hemming and hawing and stretching really far not to call it a memoir.

Whether this counts as an adequate defense or not, I'm not sure. But there you have it. If this shit ever gets published, I only ask that I be allowed to blurb your post on the back cover.

Mike said...

What TMC is saying, basically, is that he's a sellout.

Seriously, though, I hate the fucking memoir craze. I hate the fact that my generation is so goddamned entitled and self-important they think anyone cares about their stupid, supposedly shitty lives. As if writing is some kind of "sad-off," and whoever has the most trauma wins.

Whatever happened to the thinly veiled autobiographical novel?

TMC said...

Maybe I am a sellout.
But when I'm drowning in literary groupies and Bic endorsements, you'll be begging for my leftovers. And when you start begging, I'm gonna hurl a whiskey bottle at you.

On a slightly more serious note, I do think it's totally a generational thing. The generation younger than mine, especially, has been raised in a world in which so-called "reality" entertainment is the norm, a world in which even the most banal and trivial conflicts can find an audience and be considered entertainment to someone. Everyone has a blog, everyone has stupid video blogs on youtube, everyone has myspace/facebook notepads, everyone can get on pretty much any TV show they like as long as they act like idiots, etc. So, of course people think everyone wants to read memoirs.

TMC said...

Also-- if I can redeem my selling out a little bit, I'd like to add that my next project (on which I've just started working) is gonna be a 500+ page novel about professional wrestlers in the 80s. That's gotta buy me some barrelhouse cred.

Mike said...

Sorry, I had to go update my Facebook status. What were we talking about again?

JP said...

i like memoirs. partially because of reality tv and all its horrifying influence, sure. but also partially because memoirs, in my opinion, are gauntlets thrown at the reader.

"is your life nearly as fucked up as mine?" they ask? "could you survive this?" "is your smacked out junkie sister and crackhead mother half as traumatizing as my bad breakup or football addiction?" "could you thrown down, homey?"

and the reason these challenges make me happy is that, well, i almost always win. some people read memoirs and cry and shit. i'm all like "suck it up, pussy. you don't know from drama!"

(my inner voice is "street-jewish," by the way.)

Mike said...

The more I think about it, I've decided my problem with memoirs (or, okay, ONE of my problems) is the same as my problem with people in general: everyone thinks their life is interesting and their problems are unique.

Mike said...

I should also note that I've read a chapter of TMC's book, and a) it's really good, and b) it's memoir only in the most oblique sense, which is to say it's memoir only in the way that all writing is a kind of memoir (unless the other chapters are all about those wild nights snorting ketamine off Augusten Burroughs' ass crack)