3.25.2005

Editors' note: Writer Paula Kamen will be guest-blogging here on Fridays in March.

WELL, EVEN ULYSSES S. GRANT GETS HEADACHES!

Speaking of the ups and downs of the author's endless pursuit of external validation, I was both entertained and aghast at a mention of my book in the NY Times today, in an article on the cover of the Weekend Arts section.

The good news, they spelled my name right. And the bad news: Critic William Grimes used my book All in My Head, about a decade-long headache, as an example in a list of memoirs on topics that "don't warrant" memoirs being written about them.

In contrast, in an example of the fresh and socially relevant voices who SHOULD write memoirs, he mentions Ulysess S. Grant. 

But, ironically, Ulysses S. Grant was a famous headache sufferer! He wrote himself in his memoirs in detail about his "sick headache" that he had on the eve of the South's surrender!  His story is used as an example today in medical texts on the topic. So I'm sure that if he were alive today, he'd be first in line to buy my book on the topic!

But yes, I do see Grimes' point, that sometimes enough is enough and bellygazing can be annoying, but also argue that a lot of the memoirs he lists serve as useful jumping off points to indeed talk about bigger issues. It's not all just about "me." The personal becomes political. I talk about the larger problem of chronic pain and the lack of good treatment for it. Wendy McClure, whom he also mentions in the list of memoirs for her book Not the New Me, talks about greater issues of body image. 

Interestingly, like many women writers, both of us write about internal problems, that don't play out as grandly against the landscape as the Surrender at Appatomax (sp?).

(Another pet peeve: critics reviewing books without reading them. Not able to tell if they are ironic or in part journalistic.)

Well, at least infodad.com likes me....
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