What is Billie Holiday's relationship to truth in her memoir?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that any autobiography has a challenging relationship with truth.  It is a challenge because one has to speak about a life or narrative from a point of view that seeks to be transcendent, but is highly contingent.  Truth, the idea of an overwhelming or identifying nature of universal quality, is a challenging element.  I think that the memoir does a good job of trying to establish Holiday as an authority of her own life.  She does speak of experiences that had an impact on her state of being in the world and does speak of her own flaws and conditions.  Given the loosely patched together structure of the work, I think that there are going to be challenging elements in trying to construct and establish an overarching truth.  The fact that the memoir abruptly ends without her ending years helps to bring this fact to light.  If there is a truth present, it might be that Holiday is shown to be someone who is emotionally hollow, withering from a lack of love and affection.  This sense of torment is about the only constant that could unify the work and speak to its level of truth.

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