How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
- Alexander Chee
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My father believed money was for spending, and my mother believed it should never be spent.
It is hard to be with someone in the closet, because you are never sure which version of the person you are with—the one who is hidden or the one trying to be free.
I loved him, in part, for what he might be someday, which is never a good way to love someone. It was in fact a way of rejecting him, a way of rejecting who he is now, and I think in some way we both knew this.
And, of course, what was he thinking about? Which was only a way of hoping he thought about me.
[Nadav’s note: No]
I think few of us know enough about our lives to know our place in them—we can’t see ourselves as we might a character in a novel, with the same level of detachment and appraisal.
My interest, I can see now, was in whether I could know the answers without asking questions regarding my own insecurities. Instead of conducting some basic relationship emotional hygiene—Is this working for you? Is this working for me?—I went to the cards and returned with a mind full of fictions.
finding myself in a particularly long episode of trying to second-guess another of the men at the edge of my life, and whether or not I should move
You are the only one of you, she said. Your unique perspective, at this time, in our age, whether it’s on Tunis or the trees outside your window, is what matters. Don’t worry about being original, she said dismissively. Yes, everything’s been written, but also, the thing you want to write, before you wrote it, was impossible to write. Otherwise it would already exist. Your writing it makes it possible.
Remember that adverbs are a sign that you’ve used the wrong verb.
“Girl, you are mixed, aren’t you? But you can pass,” he said, as if this was a good thing. He said this as he scrutinized me in the mirror, looking at me as if I had come in wearing a disguise. “Pass as what?” I asked. “White. You look white.” When people use the word “passing” in talking about race, they only ever mean one thing, but I still make them say it.
JOHN AND I ARE patient as we make Fred up. His eyelids flutter as we try to line and shadow them. He talks while we try to put on his lipstick. He feels this will liberate him, and tells us, repeats, how much he would never have done this before. I realize he means before me.
Doing drag on Halloween night in the Castro is an amateur but high-level competitive sport.
The house gave the appearance of having been decorated once in a particular style and then never updated again.
I do not get a phone installed immediately, as I do not know what I would say if it rang and I answered. I make calls only when I need to, from a pay phone. When I am questioned by police, who suspect I’m a drug dealer because of this behavior, I get a line installed, but it feels like a concession.