I am more inclined to adopt the Graham Greene expedient. He wrote a highly personal preface to each of his books, describing the circumstances of their composition, his mood, his travel; and then published these collected prefaces as Ways of Escape. It is a wonderful book, even if he did omit his relentless womanizing.
The more I reflect on my life, the greater the appeal of the autobiographical novel. The immediate family is typically the first subject an American writer contemplates. I never felt that my life was substantial enough to qualify for the anecdotal narrative that enriches autobiography. I had never thought of writing about the sort of big talkative family I grew up in, and very early on I developed the fiction writer’s useful habit of taking liberties. I think I would find it impossible to write an autobiography without invoking the traits I seem to deplore in the ones I’ve described—exaggeration, embroidery, reticence, invention, heroics, mythomania, compulsive revisionism, and all the rest that are so valuable to fiction. Therefore, I suppose my Copperfield beckons.
Paul Theroux’s soon to be published The Tao of Travel is a travel anthology.