Mark Twain ruined the autobiography for me. In retrospect, I guess I should be grateful. You don’t hear much about the autobiography any more, as it has more or less morphed into the modern memoir, a genre of the lowest ranking on my read-o-meter. So, thank you Samuel, you have doubtless spared me untold hours struggling through less than worthy tomes of personal anguish, drug and parental abuse, endless self-reflection and navel gazing. I should not, I know, be so harsh, but didn’t all that stuff, the abuse and the drink and all the rest, didn’t that used to be the material which, processed into fiction, we recognized as literary art? Or if not fiction, at least something more, well, more worthy shall I say, than a memoir? I am not sure in the least why I feel a memoir to be such a step-child, and I know my premise to be on shaky ground. But ultimately, I think the problem started with Mark Twain.