“To be a good biographer, you have to be an empiricist. You know, you have to gather the evidence, you have to keep an open mind, and you have to be objective. A memoirist goes in with all the baggage of a bad biographer.” – Blake Bailey
Born in Oklahoma on this date in 1963, Bailey is widely known for his literary biographies, especially of writer John Cheever. He’s also editor of the Library of America omnibus editions of Cheever's stories and novels. Bailey’s book, Cheever: A Life, won numerous awards, and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize.
Bailey also has earned acclaim for a series of articles he wrote on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina – which cost him and his family their house and most of their possessions – and for his memoir, The Splendid Things We Planned: A Family Portrait, another multi-award winner for the prolific author.Bailey’s advice for writers is simple: “If possible,” he said, “be funny.”
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