The problem with memoirs I’ve been attempting to read lately

I’ve thrown down half a dozen memoir/autobiographies lately with bored disgust, not mentioning them here. But I came across this great quote from Annie Dillard that sums up what the problem has been:

You have to take pains in a memoir not to hang on the reader’s arms, like a drunk, and say, “And then I did this and it was so interesting.”

Annie Dillard, in “To Fashion a Text,” in William Zinsser, Inventing the Truth (1987)

This is the main issue with why I’m returning books that I tried hard to like, but found to be too dull:

  • How I became one of the invisible by David Rattray
  • Recollections of my life as a woman : the New York years : a memoir by Diane di Prima
  • Scottish Himalayan Expedition by W.H. Murray
  • Visions from San Francisco Bay by Czesław Milosz