A beautiful, generous book of personal essays. As a writer, Chee is interested in the constructed self, how identity can be a mask that conceals and also reveals. His self-reflection on how his own identities have served, protected, and hindered him is also an persistent, gentle invitation to the reader to remember that "the ways you are human are not always visible to yourself." There's lots of germane advice for writers here, re: this book's title, but this book is for anyone with a brain and a heart.— From Christina
ALEXANDER CHEE is the best-selling author of the novels The Queen of the Night and Edinburgh, and the essay collection How to Write an Autobiographical Novel. He is a contributing editor at the New Republic, and an editor at large at Virginia Quarterly Review. His work has appeared in The Best American Essays 2016, the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, the New Yorker, T Magazine, Slate, Vulture, among others. He is winner of a 2003 Whiting Award, a 2004 NEA Fellowship in prose and a 2010 MCCA Fellowship, and residency fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the VCCA, Civitella Ranieri and Amtrak. He is an associate professor of English at Dartmouth College.
Praise for How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Named a Best Book by: TIME, Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Wired, Esquire, Buzzfeed, New York Public Library, Boston Globe, The Paris Review, Mother Jones,The A.V. Club, Out Magazine, Book Riot, Electric Literature,PopSugar, The Rumpus, My Republica, Paste, Bitch,Library Journal,Flavorwire, Bustle, Christian Science Monitor,Shelf Awareness, Tor.com, Entertainment Cheat Sheet, Roads and Kingdoms, Chicago Public Library, Hyphen Magazine, Entropy Magazine,The Chicago Review of Books, The Coil, iBooks, and Washington Independent Review of Books Winner of the Publishing Triangle's Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction Recipient of the Lambda Literary Trustees' Award Finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Memoir/Biography Finalist for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing in Nonfiction Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal of Excellence in Nonfiction One of Min Jin Lee's Summer Reads in the Washington Post One of Curtis Sittenfeld's Summer Reads in the Guardian A Publishers Weekly Top Ten Book of 2018 "Alexander Chee is one of the best living writers of today. If he’s not already a household name, he needs to be…powerful, powerful essays with powerful, powerful words…" —Buzzfeed's Isaac Fitzgerald, on NBC's TODAY "If writing, too, is a form of drag for Chee, it is also an act of mystic invocation and transference...Chee leavens his heaviest topics—the decimation of the gay community in the late 1980s and early ’90s, the repressed memory of sexual abuse that inspired Edinburgh—with charming episodes like his stint as a waiter at William and Pat Buckley’s Park Avenue maisonette, a job that prompted a crisis of conscience given Buckley’s infamous proposal to brand AIDS patients on their wrists and buttocks...Even at his most mystical, Chee is generous; these pieces are personal, never pedagogical. They bespeak an unguarded sincerity and curiosity. Chee is refreshingly open about his sometimes liberating, sometimes claustrophobic sense of exceptionality...He reminds us that whomever a writer pictures as his audience, he is also writing into absence, standing in testimony for the sake of the dead. Like most of the essays here, 'After Peter' pulses with urgency, one piece from a life in restless motion. It is not necessary to agree that How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is itself a kind of novel in order to appreciate that Chee has written a moving and personal tribute to impermanence, a wise and transgressive meditation on a life lived both because of and in spite of America, a place where, he writes, you are allowed to speak the truth as long as nothing changes.'" —New York Times Book Review "Two-thirds of the way through Alexander Chee's How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, I abandoned my sharpened reviewer's pencil in favor of luxuriating in the words. Chee's writing has a mesmerizing quality; his sentences are rife with profound truths without lapsing into the didactic...Chee is a very special artist; his writing is lyrical and accessible, whimsical and sad, often all at the same time. No doubt he is an inspiring writing teacher as well. His views on writing reflect his own, thoughtfully examined life."