In the first posting in this series, I took a bit of a shot at Obama for noting that he wrote his autobiography at 34. But to his credit, early on in the text Obama acknowledges what he’s written doesn’t really fit the traditional definition of autobiography:
“The result is autobiographical, although whenever someone’s asked me over the course of these last three years just what the book is about, I’ve usually avoided such a description. An autobiography promises feats worthy of record, conversations with famous people, a central role in important events. There is none of that here. At the very least, an autobiography implies a summing up, a certain closure, that hardly suits someone of my years, still busy charting his way through the world.”
Hugh Hewitt and Dean Barnett (on the mend, hooray! and his review of DOMF can be found here) have commended me for the undertaking of reading 442 pages of Obama’s memoir. Obama is a talented enough writer, but I can’t say I’m relishing the thought of wading through eighteen chapters and an epilogue of Obama having to wrestle with his absent father’s strengths and flaws, and (I suspect) determining that he can be his own man.
Maybe “reconciling with a divided inheritance” (the back cover text) is something more interesting to people who have more of a… well, a divided inheritance. Most young men learn that they are not the same their fathers, for good and for ill, fairly early in life.
But maybe I’m judging the book too early…