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Biographies are always a fascinating read. Our curiosity about famous people means we are intrigued to see whether the real person behind the famous persona is exactly like the image portrayed, or whether there is some chink in their armor, some skeleton in the cupboard, or some childhood tragedy that has made them how they are.

But why are biographies of less famous people, even ordinary people, fascinating? Part of the answer must be the "soap opera" factor: the way we enjoy seeing how the dramas that happen to others play out. Take a good mix of elation and despair, stir in a helping of glamour and treachery, and you have the average plot line.

But while each of our lives is thrilling to ourselves, few of us have stories that will attract and hold the interest of others. I was chatting recently with the owner of a publishing house in İstanbul and learned that they received many manuscripts of personal memoirs of "My time in Turkey," or biographies of loved ones. The majority were dull, over-long, full of irrelevant details that were considered vitally important by the author and, in short, unpublishable. Where a manuscript might have been considered, the author was so close to the subject of the work that they expressly refused any editing be done. Result: unpublishable, again.

To read a review of a great biography of an ordinary man, written by his widow, click here: http://www.sundayszaman.com/sunday/detaylar.do?load=detay&link=...

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Comment by Charlotte McPherson on October 7, 2007 at 11:37am
Hi Marion! Great bio on ordinary man.

I agree...A good biography brings the person to life . . .
A biography should makes us care about what she or he did with time and opportunity.

None of us want to read or write another boring one.
Thanks for sharing your insights.

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