I’ve read some memoirs – just last month I had a little spree of them. There was The Unexpected Professor (John Carey and his literary career), The Rose Hotel (family of Iranian refugees) and My Name is Malala (Pakistani school girl/nobel winner). The best ones … I don’t know – I’m not a fan of memoirs – too many of the popular ones are … well … not very careful – Think “A Million Little Pieces” by James Frey or “Love and Consequences” by Margaret Seltzer or “The Blood Runs like a River” by Nasdii or A Long Way Gone – or Three Cups of Tea or
And then there’s “Dutch: a Memoir of Ronald Reagan” wherein the author, Edmond Morris, made stuff up – the premise is that Morris is remembering Reagan – but he invents characters and all sorts of bizarro stuff.
I do remember that Alex Haley did the writing for “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” (1965) Haley’s name was not on the cover the first few years but then a few years later “Roots” had made Haley important so his name had to go on there – “with the assistance of Alex Haley” and then “as told to Alex Haley.”
Now they say often say “as told to” or “as written by” or “co-authored by” or “with” or something for when the subject tells his story and the writer writes it up.
Malala – by Malala Yousafzia with Christina Lamb as a contributor
I like travelogues where the focus is the place and the writer is good. Siberia by Ian Frazier is good – I suppose it’s a memoir of that trip – not of his whole life or even his childhood – certainly not of his mother. lol –
Many travelogues are not memoirs but biographies of other people’s travels. Travelogues are a whole genre unto themselves but frequently cross with a couple others – history (Black Lamb Grey Falcon by Rebecca West) and biography (Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer) and memoir (Eat, Pray, Love – yuk – by Elizabeth Gilbert) and so on. Heroditous and Richard ________ and some others are great.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed is a memoir/travelogue that truly sucks. That is one stupid woman and her memoir shows how flakey she is. I darned near threw my iPad across the room at the trash – if it had been a paper edition … The travel bits aren’t worth reading – go get a nice big picture book of the high Sierras, buy some maps, pack a solid pack and buy some quality boots. Then put it on and practice walking around – find a willing friend and go for a day hike in the foothills and then try a long weekend. Then start fantasizing about 3 or 4-months of walking the John Muir – lol –
I would love to read Ibn Batuta – very early travel writer – probably more reliable than Marco Polo.
Btw, I tried to read Lila long ago, but didn’t finish. ZatAoMM was good but the focus was not on the material accuracy of the bike ride – it was on Pirsig’s philosophy.