• How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

  • Essays
  • By: Alexander Chee
  • Narrated by: Daniel K. Isaac
  • Length: 8 hrs and 28 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (286 ratings)

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How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

By: Alexander Chee
Narrated by: Daniel K. Isaac
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Publisher's Summary

An essay collection exploring his education as a man, writer, and activist - and how we form our identities in life and in art.

As a novelist, Alexander Chee has been described as "masterful" by Roxane Gay, "incendiary" by the New York Times, and "brilliant" by the Washington Post. With How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, his first collection of nonfiction, he is sure to secure his place as one of the finest essayists of his generation as well.

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is the author's manifesto on the entangling of life, literature, and politics, and how the lessons learned from a life spent reading and writing fiction have changed him. In these essays, he grows from student to teacher, reader to writer, and reckons with his identities as a son, a gay man, a Korean American, an artist, an activist, a lover, and a friend. He examines some of the most formative experiences of his life and the nation's history, including his father's death, the AIDS crisis, 9/11, the jobs that supported his writing - Tarot-reading, bookselling, cater-waiting for William F. Buckley - the writing of his first novel, Edinburgh, and the election of Donald Trump.

By turns commanding, heartbreaking, and wry, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel asks questions about how we create ourselves in life and in art and how to fight when our dearest truths are under attack.

A BookRiot Pick of Books to Read If You Love "Pose". 

An Entertainment Weekly Best Book of the Year (So Far). 

A Chicago Review of Books Pick of Best of the Year (So Far). 

A Buzzfeed Best Books of the Year (So Far). 

A Wired Magazine Pick of Must-Read Summer Titles. 

An Esquire Magazine Pick of Best Books of 2018 (So Far). 

A Christian Science Monitor selection of 2018's Most Anticipated Books. 

A Bustle Pick of Most Anticipated Books of 2018. 

A Bitch magazine pick of Most Anticipated Nonfiction for 2018. 

A Pop Sugar Pick of Most Anticipated Upcoming Books. 

A Paste Magazine Pick of Most Anticipated Books of 2018. 

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2018.

©2018 Alexander Chee (P)2018 Blackstone Publishing

Featured Article: The Best LGBTQIA+ Listens by Queer Authors


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What listeners say about How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

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  • Overall
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The unexpected how-to

I loved this book despite it not being what I expected and instead being what I needed. I enjoyed the essays weaving me through his life and his relationship with writing. As he told his story, I was dropped into my own historical moments reliving the good and the bad.

6 people found this helpful

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Even a collection of essays has to hook the reader

First, I thought this book was about "how to write an autobiographical book". So that was a disappointment. The chapters were slow, as far as moving the story forward. If you're writing your own story, even using. collection of essays, it has to move towards something.
I don't have any issue reading stories (fiction or nonfiction) with people of different races, sexualities, genders, backgrounds, religions/spirituality, politics, or experiences. I do take issue with any story where the movement/drama/pacing is lacking.
Better autobiographical books for me were: michael caine "blowing the bloody doors off" and busy Phillips "this will only hurt a little".

6 people found this helpful

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Do NOT waste your money or time

Boring. One Star for writing a book. BT But how it got published ???? I would have time investigate and it is not worth

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Absolutely stunning

A fellow writer recommended I read/listen to this book, and I am so glad I did. I could almost not believe Chee was not narrating because the narrator was so natural and so well paced. I was engaged the entire time. While I walked in expected everything to be centered around writing, and much of it was, I walk away feeling inspired and full of imagery from his life. There were so many specific moments he describes so truthfully, I felt like his was in my head/memories. Very beautiful collection of essays.

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Craft Writing with Chiseled Narration

I’ll be listening to this book again. The anecdotes and writing notes were made vibrant when coupled with a convincing and pleasant voice.

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Brilliant, just know what you are picking up.

This book has no set direction and at times takes you through a whirlwind of memories you can't imagine teasing a lesson out of. Some sections had me listening and doing nothing else as I read and reread its sections. Others had me wondering how could there still be more types of roses we haven't gone over. Miraculously, however, every chapter changed something about who I thought I was and the world I thought I lived in. Most importantly perhaps, by the end of it I wrote. For the first time in a long time, though he never sugar coated the pain of his many stories in the slightest, I felt mine were worth telling.

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A Great Contemporary Collection of Essays

I love this book. I read an interview with Alexander Chee in Poets & Writers. Because I am beginning to write essays, I decided to try his book. I was pleased, delighted, and amazed. Chee is a writer's writer. He delves into the craft, using personal stories as illustrations. He believes good writing can be taught and that writing matters. He has lived a life filled with surprising turns from a drag queen, to an ACT-Up activist, to a waiter for conservation William F. Buckley--all along, he plumbs lessons for writing and living. His book is a cross between Stephen King's "On Writing" and Anthony Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential." It is intimate and raw. His sentences sparkle, and his prose sings. I will enjoy listening to the book over again. I highly recommend it.

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Autobiography

Wry well written and performed. I lived my own biography while listening. It was a powerful experience.

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Stunning and beautiful

I don’t usually like super gay books, but Audible recommended this one and it was incredible. Also the guy who reads it sounds like the bad guy in the movie There Will Be Blood and I LOVED that. Made it feel juicy and taboo. Really gave me a new appreciation for gay men. Fantastic writer.

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Very interesting!

Had my attention from start to finish. I wanted to read something different. I’m glad I picked this book for my thought provoking genre.