Not Going Far Enough

When you’re reading a novel, it’s okay if you figure out things that the protagonist doesn’t know. But it pisses me off when this happens while reading a memoir.

I’m reading a memoir in which the author gives us three instances of when she loves her husband. In each instance he is taking control of a situation and is either distraught about the idea of losing her or is asserting that she is his.

But the author does not go on to tell us that she loves him the most when he is claiming her. If she described this and thought about why she might feel that way, it would be interesting. If she doesn’t, then you get the feeling that she’s not thinking hard enough.

This reminds me of Cleaving, a book I enjoyed in spite of myself. But what ultimately pissed me off about the book is that the author can’t explain why she is compelled to sleep with other men when she is in a seemingly  happy marriage. If she couldn’t explain this conflict, which is the backbone (excuse the pun) of the book, then she wasn’t ready to publish it.

This is also a publishing issue. Julie Powell had mad success with Julie and Juliaand she probably had a lot of pressure to churn out a second book. Possibly even a contractual obligation. Her living may have relied on this. She didn’t have time to go far enough in her writing and meet her deadlines.

What books go far enough for you?

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2 responses to “Not Going Far Enough

  1. I usually feel that books have gone too far, have overexplained. But I rarely read memoir so maybe I’d feel differently as you do in those cases and crave a bit more introspection.

    • That’s a good question. How can you indicate that you have thought it through and yet not overexplain. One of the reasons it bothered me in this instance is because the book is overfull of exposition, and so when you see something that isn’t explained, it seems as if it was overlooked.

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