Before I begin this review, I have to admit a huge deal of bias: I don’t like memoirs. And even more specifically, I don’t like memoirs written by writers, about writing. Some of this has to do with my suspicion that, due to the stakes and state of contemporary publishing, the majority of memoirs are neither interesting, revelatory, nor self-reflective—rather they hit fairly low-hanging fruit and are entertaining, “shocking,” and wholly gratuitous, in addition to poorly written. Other parts of my objection deal with doubts about memoir’s ability to use one’s own vision to transcend that vision: to see outside the self, via the self. But I don’t want this review to become a condemnation or argument about creative nonfiction as a whole, or even memoir specifically—this is only to say that I was already in a poor mood when I began Paul Lisicky’s “memoir of friendship,” The Narrow Door. And unfortunately, I didn’t finish in any better state of mind.
If I’m going to pull one emotional reaction from this reading, it’s annoyance: at formatting choices, at MFA program politics, at writers, at Paul Lisicky. Annoyance that I read a “memoir of friendship” and ended up feeling as though I would never want to be friends with either Lisicky or Denise. Continue reading A Very Balanced Review: The Narrow Door, Paul Lisicky