How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

by Alexander Chee
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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 129

How to Write An Autobiographical Novel is a genre-defying book, containing aspects of both manifesto and memoir. As such, it has no characters per se, other than Chee's literary projection of selfhood. Yet, Chee defines the making of literature as a drag performance, and his self-descriptions comprise different "characters" through time. For example, he writes about his experience as a gay man coming of age as if it involved a distinct performance and identity. His other "performances" include being a Korean-American, a romantic partner, a social activist, and a victim of sexual violence.

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Chee argues that this process of characterization is more or less automatic as one moves through life. He compares his drag identities to "prostheses," or specialized instruments which accomplish the tasks life has demanded of him.

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