I need someone to explain the concept behind fictionalized biography to me. I understand what a biography is and an autobiography. I even I understand the concept of fiction pretty well. What I don’t understand – outside of tabloids which are largely fiction — is the combination of the two genres. Why make Abraham Lincoln a vampire hunter, for example?
I’ve touched upon this subject of mixed genre before when I reviewed the fictionalized story of Helen Keller. Since then, I haven’t revised my belief that the only reason a person writes fictional biography is to get a free ride on the name of someone famous.
The latest arrival in this genre is The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin, which is a made-up account of Anne Lindbergh’s marriage to Charles Lindbergh. Here’s an appalling sample of the “stuff” Benjamin writes– the scene where Anne meets her future husband for the first time.
I felt my face blush, the bodice of my frock straining tightly against my breasts, flattened down by a very hot, very uncomfortable rubber brassiere… (Excerpt for the novel published in Good Housekeeping, January 2012 pg. 189.)
Having read Anne Lindberg’s work, I doubt she’d ever express herself in so unpoetic a manner, and I shudder for the poor woman who cannot defend herself, being long since buried.
The only truth attributable to Benjamin’s account is the fact that bras are instruments of torture. The rest, as far as I’m concerned, is an invasion of someone’s life — a form of grave robbing for profit.
I am grateful to realize, that being someone of little note, no one will be tempted to subject my life and thoughts to the ignominy of fictionalized biography. But if, for some unfathomable reason, it should occur, let the writer of that fiction be warned. He or she should not linger long at the site where I am buried.
(Courtesy of aberossi.wordpress.com)