How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

Alexander Chee

It suddenly seemed like everyone I know was reading and loving this book. Despite the suggestion of the title, the essays aren’t at all instructional in terms of writing, though they show by example how a collection of essays can build on each other and create a nuanced vision of a writer’s life. These are all very personal essays; they roughly chart Alexander Chee’s process of coming into himself as a person and a writer.

I think “The Rosary” may be my favorite, the story of Chee renting a cheap Brooklyn apartment with a barren backyard and transforming the yard into a beautiful rose garden.

Roses, I discover in my research, appear delicate but have adapted to most climates. They can be made to bloom all through the year until winter. The more they are cut back, the faster they grow, and the stronger they are. I understand, as I read this, that I have found my role models.

Mentally shelved to read again one day.