It’s being a while since I last joined in with the wonderful Booking Through Thursday weekly meme but when last weeks musing popped I just couldn’t resist getting involved. If you read any of the comments stemming from my last post, Reading Through June, you’ll notice that me and another fellow blogger have been touching on this weeks topic a little already. Today’s question is all about biographies;
There are so many crappy biographies … would you rather read a poorly-written biography of a fascinating life, OR an exquisitely well-written, wonderful read of one of a not-so-interesting life?
I found it quite interesting that the question started saying ‘There are so many crappy biographies’ it does just seem to be the general consensus does it not, that there are a lot of rubbish biographies out there. But boy do they get read! If your particularly interested in a certain person or celebrity than a biography can be an easy indulgence into their life, or perhaps you just prefer more fictional writing…but here I digress.
The question is would you rather read something not so well written but fascinating in context, or something written well with a subject matter not quite so engrossing. So where do I find myself? Strangely in the first camp. Strange because when selecting a novel the style and execution of the writing is usually just as important to me as the actual story being told. I like strong, poetic prose, powerful imagery; these things help the story flow elegantly for me, they give beauty to the book.
Yet when reading a biography it’s all about the story and not about the style. But why? Well firstly I hardly ever bother with biographies, they for me, are like crime fiction and chic lit; guilty pleasures. Most of the time I will knock them for their poor writing but every now and then I just can’t resist a simply fascinating story.
I’d only seek out a biography on this whim unless the particular person fascinated me, and again I would find myself expecting a tantalising story, not a beautifully written novel.
The last biography I read was My Booky Wook by Russel Brand. I’ll admit I like a little celeb gossip from time to time (don’t worry I wont be hanging up my novel reviews to gorge on Now magazine anytime soon) and so the idea of reading about a star as notorious as Russel Brand appealed. Did I care if the story was wrote well? No. Did I want to get to the nitty-gritty truth about Brand? Yes. And so case in point; biographies are for me about content not quality.
That said Brand is clearly a very intelligent man and I even remember some very lovely musing and analogies that he used in the book which were a pleasant surprise. Has anyone read this book? Did you like it? Did it change your opinion of him?
I also read and loved Scar Tissue by Antony kiedis. Again the idea of reading about such a troubled star as Kiedis held so much appeal that all I could think of was finding everything out about him, the style of writing was the last thing on my mind.
So in summary yes I very much want an interesting story from a biography, quality isn’t so high up on my list. It’s not like me to prioritize that way but biographies are just different for me.
What about everyone else? What do you seek in a biography? I’d love to hear your thoughts and remember to leave your thoughts at Booking Through Thursday, or better still join in the fun on your own blog, be sure to put the link on their site too.