Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Top 10 memoirs and autobiographies

Eve Claxton studied English and American Literature at Manchester University before moving to New York in 1995. She is the author of two guidebooks to New York, and the editor of The World’s Best Memoir Writing.

In 2006 she named her top ten memoirs and autobiographies for the Guardian.

One title on the list:
Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited by Vladimir Nabokov (1966)

Speak, Memory - about Nabokov's "lost" childhood in pre-Revolution Russia, and the early years of his post-Revolution peregrinations in Europe - is literary memoir at its finest. Nabokov weaves the stuff of memory into a luminous work of art, definitively upping the ante for memoir writers to come. While working on the anthology, I sought out his notes for a sequel to Speak, Memory (in the New York Public Library), which he began in the late 1960s but never finished or published. A single, immaculately fashioned paragraph from these notes is included in the anthology.
Read about another entry on the list.

Speak, Memory is on Anne Applebaum's top five list of memoirs of Communism and Eva Hoffman's list of five notable memoirs of identity, dislocation & belonging, and is one of Susan Cheever's favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue