It is the sad fate of an icon to be mummified alive, pickled by his own reputation, and midway through this dreary meander of a memoir, Sam throws up his hands in despair: “What a wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself. . . . His acts and his words are merely the visible thin crust of his world . . . and they are so trifling a part of his bulk! a mere skin enveloping it. The mass of him is hidden — it and its volcanic fires that toss and boil, and never rest, night nor day. These are his life, and they are not written, and cannot be written. . . . Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man — the biography of the man himself cannot be written.”In cataloging the passages he uses as evidence of the vacuousness of the book, Keillor inadvertently (or perhaps advertently?) makes the point that even he is interested enough in the minutiae of the great man's life that he would read these words and then produce a long piece reciting them.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
a review of the Autobiography of Mark Twain Volume I, which can be summed up as: don't bother buying or reading it. "Here is a powerful argument for writers burning their papers," he writes.