Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Six titles that straddle the line between honest & too honest

Michael Leviton is a writer, musician, photographer, and storyteller. He is the host of the storytelling series and podcast The Tell. He has worked as a screenwriter and contributed music to television shows, including HBO’s Bored to Death.

Leviton's new memoir is To Be Honest.

At LitHub he tagged six books that straddle the line between being honest and being too honest, including:
Deborah Tannen, That’s Not What I Meant

Tannen is a linguist who specializes in identifying and categorizing different styles of communication, but she became a linguist to unravel the communication issues that led to her divorce, so her personal mission often makes this feel strangely like memoir. Tannen suggests that whatever communication style we ended up with probably feels like the only correct one, that anyone communicating differently appears to us as foolish, insane, or evil. Over the course of the book, she tells enough personal experiences that we get a vision of what the world looks like to a communication expert and I find her a riveting character. Tannen doesn’t really make jokes and yet I can’t remember a book that made me laugh this much. Her zooming out on social life feels like a sharper way to express what most great literature tries to. I get the sense from her personal anecdotes that her analysis really bothers people, that she’s often attacked by those who insist that they alone know what’s rude and what’s polite, what’s invasive and what’s friendly, what’s kind and what’s manipulative. As I read, I found that this book explained most things that have gone wrong in my life, solving nearly all my long obsessed-over interpersonal mysteries. I know that’s an absurd level of praise for a book, but I’m not even exaggerating.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue