It’s a grey ethical area for writers. Memoirists are vampires and thieves, you might say: vampires and thieves with shards of ice in their hearts. However much [Candia] McWilliam may want us to think about her story in terms of the sentences, of course we are also interested in the sense. In a prurient (or perhaps hope-filled) desire to read about how a famous novelist hit the bottle and rock bottom and then somehow got her life together again. Yes, of course that’s a deliberately clichéd version of her story and an unfair reflection of McWilliam’s rich writing. But it would be naïve to suggest the book won’t be read for that narrative.