But Enough About Me

But Enough About Me: Why We Read Other People's Lives

Nancy K. Miller
CAROLYN G. HEILBRUN
NANCY K. MILLER
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 160
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/mill12522
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  • Book Info
    But Enough About Me
    Book Description:

    In her latest work of personal criticism, Nancy K. Miller tells the story of how a girl who grew up in the 1950s and got lost in the 1960s became a feminist critic in the 1970s. As in her previous books, Miller interweaves pieces of her autobiography with the memoirs of contemporaries in order to explore the unexpected ways that the stories of other people's lives give meaning to our own. The evolution she chronicles was lived by a generation of literary girls who came of age in the midst of profound social change and, buoyed by the energy of second-wave feminism, became writers, academics, and activists. Miller's recollections form one woman's installment in a collective memoir that is still unfolding, an intimate page of a group portrait in process.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51634-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  6. 1 But Enough About Me, What Do You Think of My Memoir?
    (pp. 1-26)

    What were the nineties? The Clinton era will go down in history not just for the halcyon days of an endlessly touted national prosperity and the explosion of dot-com culture but also for a paroxysm of personal exposure: making the private public to a degree startling even in a climate of over-the-top self-revelation. If Clinton’s performances stood the feminist dictum of the personal being the political on its head, the impulse of ask and tell was in no way unique—and not being shocked was, well, very nineties. The nineties also saw the spectacular rise of the memoir, which (along...

  7. 2 Decades
    (pp. 27-46)

    It’s 1962. I’ve just turned twenty-one in Paris. For my birthday, my roommate at the Foyer International has given me a copy of the Lettres portugaises, illustrated by Modigliani, and inscribed with a message that invites me to consider how wonderful it is to be like the religieuse portugaise—young and passionate—and concludes: “dis ‘fuck you’ à tous les garçons [she was learning English from the Americans who ate downstairs at the Foyer’s student restaurant] et aime-les.” Modigliani is an artist whose images of elongated women I find entrancing. I am knocked out by these letters. They are written,...

  8. 3 Circa 1959
    (pp. 47-72)

    I didn’t go to Stratford-upon-Avon to study Shakespeare. That’s not true either. I did want to study Shakespeare. I was an English major, after all. But mainly I wanted to get away from my parents and impress my boyfriend. David had given me a brown leather-bound diary with gilt-tipped pages for a going-away present. As soon as the boat pulled out of the harbor, I started recording my feelings and impressions. After some twenty pages, the diary abruptly stops with an arrow pointing toward Oxford. Not another line. And yet what happened at Oxford was the beginning of everything, which...

  9. 4 The Marks of Time
    (pp. 73-110)

    What does a woman of a certain age see when she looks at herself in time’s mirror?

    Four faces, four bronze autoportraits by sculptor Sheila Solomon (fig.4.1). They belong to an installation called Time/Pieces: nineteen sculptures and two drawings that engage with the questions of women, change, and time. Solomon conceived the work as an “organic whole with the pieces resonating and amplifying one another. . . . The organization of the works is circular,” she writes, “in that it reaches back into my past and extends forward into the future.”¹ Between the portrait covered with hands and the uncovered...

  10. 5 “Why Am I Not That Woman?”
    (pp. 111-126)

    A memory from “Saturday Night Live.” When I was a beginning assistant professor in the seventies and living with someone who liked to stay up late, I used to watch this program, which was just getting started. In the news-update segment, Chevy Chase played the anchorman. At the start of his show he would look brightly into the camera and say,“Good evening. Welcome to the 7 o’clock news” and then, with palpable relish, sign on: “I’m Chevy Chase”— pause—“And you’re not.” It seemed pretty funny at the time.

    All autobiographical acts take place in the tensile space between what’s...

  11. Epilogue: My Grandfather’s Cigarette Case, or What I Learned in Memphis
    (pp. 127-138)

    At the end of my last book I left myself standing in the cemetery where my parents and paternal grandparents are buried. Contemplating the two sets of graves after my father’s death, I fantasized selling the burial plot that my father had bought for me. I didn’t want to end up there, I thought, sandwiched between the untended graves (between my parents again—or was it still?), captioned by epitaphs—beloved this, devoted that—coded language that revealed little of a story that had gone very wrong a long time ago. Mainly I wanted to stop wondering about the metaphorical...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 139-148)