If you read a lot of nonfiction, you may be familiar with what some call the “memoir quandary”—the complaint that memoir and autobiography are too narrowly focused on the writer’s life to be of real interest to anyone but themselves. To avoid this criticism, many nonfiction writers attempt to achieve greater relatability and universality in their writing. But is this appeal really more desirable than the art of telling a good story? While there’s nothing wrong with seeking common ground, one of the magical qualities of writing is how it can not only transport the reader to new places and experiences, but also introduce them to perspectives they might not have considered before.
As a recent entry in the University of Nebraska Press’ award-winning American Lives Series, Micah McCrary
’s Island in the City
(2018) challenges us to consider both personal and political implications of one man’s life experiences through intimately intersectional prose. As a black and queer-identifying man, McCrary examines these identities through keen exploration of gender, sexuality, race, class, geography, and more in order to comment on the simultaneous singularity and ubiquity of human experience. Though McCrary is careful to note that his is an autobiography of one man, and that he can speak for no one but himself, Island in the City
is nevertheless a radical exercise in empathetic connection.
Today on New Books in Literature, join us as we sit down with author Micah McCrary to hear more about Island in the City
, available now from the University of Nebraska Press (2018).
Zoë Bossiere is a doctoral student at Ohio University, where she studies creative nonfiction and teaches writing classes. For more NBn interviews, follow her on Twitter @zoebossiere or head to zoebossiere.com.