Biographies often stranger than fiction—August 3, 2012
Truth may be stranger than fiction, but when it comes to biographies, there might be a mix of both.
I’m a fan of biographies, but read them with a presumption that there’s an element of fiction along with fact. A biography is only as accurate as the teller, who may have shaky research, take liberties with embellishment or slant the facts.
For example, two new biographies about President Obama are not standing completely upright on the library’s shelves. . .one slants slightly to the left, and one slants dramatically to the right, so to speak. . . one person, two perspectives on his life.
“Barack Obama, The Story,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Maraniss, promises fresh insights and revealing information drawn from hundreds of interviews, letters, journals and other documents all which he says shaped the first black president of the United States and explains why he thinks and acts as he does.
Best-selling author Ed Klein claims to have the inside scoop on never-before-published details about the Obama administration's political inner workings, as well as Barack and Michelle's personal lives. His exposé, “The Amateur Barack Obama in the White House” presents an unflattering portrait of the president and his administration.
Other new biographies, not so controversial but too numerous to list them all, include several standouts that I found unique for various reasons.
One of the greatest rock icons of all time, Gregg Allman, seems to hold nothing back in his memoir, My Cross to Bear.” Written with assistance from Alan Light, the book brings to life the carefree early days of the Allman Brothers Band. The language may be raw, but the story is moving.
Learn about the life of an extreme-adventurer, mountaineer, martial arts expert and former UK Special Forces paratrooper - all the same person, Bear Grylis. He tells his own action-packed life story in “Mud, Sweat and Tears.”
“The Lost Cyclist” is the remarkable account of two famous American cyclists, one who disappeared in 1894 in eastern Turkey as he was about to complete a global circuit, and the other who bravely set off halfway around the world to unravel the mystery. This biography was well-researched and well-written by David V. Herlihy.
Ex-con and tough-talking star of Animal Planet’s hit show, “Pit Boss,” Shorty Rossi, is the author of a new memoir. His title, “Four Feet Tall & Rising,” refers to his height and his strength as he rose above much adversary to become a successful businessman and outspoken advocate for pit bulls.
“Pit bulls and ex-cons, we got a lot in common. Our bad reputations precede us every time,” Shorty says.
“Fairy Tale Interrupted” is a poignant tribute to the all-too-short life of John F. Kennedy Jr. as seen through the eyes of Rosemarie Terenzio, the woman who was his personal assistant and publicist during the last five years of his life.
Get to know someone new with a biography from Hastings Public Library.