Is a book just a book?
Or is it a window into the life of the author?
I think maybe the answer to both is: Yes.
We, of course, expose ourselves with everything we write and say, but it by no means defines us.
Maybe a body of work explains us a little more than any single book or blog post will – but certainly don’t read anything I write and think that you know me in any real way.
A picture, or a painting, or a book, can not begin to articulate the whole of a person.
I just loved this little retort.
When faced with the exposure question, I bring to mind a conversation I once witnessed between the memoirist Frank McCourt and a woman he’d just met at a dinner party. Her: I feel like I know everything about you. Him (not even blinking): Oh, darlin’. It’s just a book. It’s just a book. He delivered it with impeccable timing, and in the kindest possible way but it . . . well . . . it shut her up. But the truth is that we can feel exposed by our books—if we let that happen. And not just the memoirists among us. Fiction can be even more exposing than
memoir—a map to the inner world, the subconscious internal workings, the obsessions and fears and secret joys of the writer.
-Dani Shapiro, Still Writing