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Sunday Sentence

Life-Writing
In which I participate in David Abrams’s “Sunday Sentence” project, sharing the best sentence I’ve read during the past week, “out of context and without commentary.”

“Confessional literature—memoirs of having undergone child abuse, of having had alcoholic mothers, unfaithful or incestuous fathers or husbands, of having been oneself an abuser, boozer or cruiser—is, in a nation of victims, very much à la mode.”

Source: A review by Joseph Epstein (of On Life-Writing, edited by Zachary Leader), “The Art of Biography” (The Wall Street Journal)

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3 Responses »

  1. Erika, I haven’t dared say it–and so much of the writing in confessional literature is beautiful–there is this overwhelming sense of victimhood; I don’t really understand it. Are things worse, much worse than they were long ago? Is this sense of victimhood more prevalent among younger writers? What does it say about our society?

    • Marlena, I agree–there is some really beautiful confessional writing out there. But I also agree that much of it conveys a sense of victimhood, and that is somewhat puzzling. I’m not sure if things are so much worse than they were long ago. But many things have been “de-stigmatized,” and so perhaps people sense that there’s more freedom to write (and publish) on those topics. And there are definitely more venues for sharing such writing. These are big questions, to be sure.

      • Also, of course, we Americans are more and more involved with self than people in most other societies. In other societies community values remain primary. (I am grossly generalizing.)

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