This book meditates on the nature of biography and the way biographers habitually explain their subjects' loves by reference to psychology, ancestry, childhood experience, social relations, the body, or illness.
"His [David Ellis] alternate damning and praising will send many readers to the library or bookstores and may even provoke a few to attempt Sartre's nearly 3,000 pages on Gustave Flaubert--The Family Idiot--a book that Mr. Ellis makes fascinating even if he admits many deem its details unreadable." -- Chronicle of Higher Education
"Ellis's committment to exploring the fundamentally characteristic interpretation of life writing and life drives this study…Ellis helps us understand the importance of cross-examining inert assumptions and complacencies regarding life writing, not simply for the sake of this genre as such, but also for life itself, and for their complex yet essential relationship By bringing questioning awareness to biography and our participation in it whether as writers or readers we can in short do something that really matters." -- Biography