Thursday, April 22, 2010

Autobeautyography: more on the genre


If you've arrived here after reading my piece on Jezebel perhaps you're new to autobeautyography.  That's my name for the genre of literature created when eccentrics, often famous eccentrics, set out to write a helpful how-to on skin care, diet  and makeup tips, and building a wardrobe that works, and end up writing their life story by revealing insecurities and deeply weird habits, confessing various secrets and betrayals, and perhaps letting a giddy need for attention push them too far.  These books were my secret pleasure for most of my life.

Now with blogs and reality television, it seems to me that autobeautyography is everywhere.  Nearly everyone wants to show the world their underwear and share their disordered diet tips.  Everyone has become their Own Grandchild.  Sadly books by today's eccentrics are often overly ghost-written and slickly produced, safely devoid of personality.

But perhaps you're familiar with a certain autobeautyography in the form a e-mail newsletter?  It has all the makings of a classic.  The author insists the tips within are there to inform and help, but GOOP's appeal seems to lie only in the personality and attitudes revealed.  A book is inevitable!

I have to be honest here.  It is difficult for me to even mention GOOP, and believe you me, I have wanted to for quite some time.  But I have a complicated, if albeit distant, relationship to Gwyneth.  I have always loved to watch her on screen.  It's her face.  I could watch that face watch paint dry, as they say.  That news letter fascinates me in that it is much like reading her write paint dry.  Does this make any sense?

Anyway, welcome new readers!  All the links above will take you to some of the best autobeautyographies from my collection.