Obama’s Memoir Is an Exercise in Ironic Realism

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Obama's Memoir Is an Exercise in Ironic Realism

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Autobiographies of famous people are almost always disappointing. The demands of public life degrade literary prose: the euphemisms, evasions, forced optimism, and name-checking; the pressure to please different constituencies; the need to project one’s personality onto a huge stage; the relentless schedule, the lack of time alone. Living with one eye on popular opinion and the other on history kills the inwardness without which writing turns into making statements.

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