That Narrative

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.

Charlotte Higgins