How I Broke The Memoir – Neil Patrick Harris in print

I love non-fiction and Neil Patrick Harris (in completely different ways, mind) but the announcement of his book deal has me less excited and more than a little confused about what, exactly, it is we will be reading.

Not content with a mere biography or memoir, the scene has been set by press releases sent out today for the actor’s first book to be ‘a Work of Imaginative Nonfiction’. Tina Constable, Senior Vice President at publisher Crown Archetype, is promising entertainment but not illuminating what will be involved. She said, “Neil Patrick Harris’s wildly creative, funny, and inventive vision for his book reflects his many talents and dimensions as an artist. We are certain his book will entertain, surprise, and delight not just his legions of fans but also all readers who love a good puzzle.”

Such as puzzling out what, exactly, Harris is likely to be writing about and if it’s worth reading? Crown’s press release is hedging on that too. “As yet untitled, Harris’s book will be a work of imaginative nonfiction that delivers an interactive, nonlinear reading experience that breaks the boundaries of conventional memoir. An accomplished amateur magician, Harris will draw upon his love of adventure and surprise in creating the book, as well as upon the many roles he has played in his life and career—from being a child star to coming out, and from acting on Broadway to becoming a proud father.”

Sounds fascinating, and all that, but what exactly does that mean we’ll be reading? A memoir? A book of anecdote-inspired crossword puzzles? A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book based on his life? (Actually, that last one sounds fun.) Neil may know but he’s also not making it explicit, preferring to joke around the subject in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “I’m excited to be writing a book of the observations and stories of my life,” said Harris. “I read with great fondness Tina Fey’s Bossypants, so my plan is just to reprint those exact stories but change the names to people that I knew. What editor would take issue with that?”

There’s little doubt that Neil has a golden touch when it comes picking and producing his projects; from rocking the audiences’ socks off in musicals such as Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog to cameos in the recent Muppet Movie, as well as his Emmy-nominated role as Barney Stinson in CBS sit-com How I Met Your Mother. And, while you won’t find his name on any other books, this isn’t his first publishing credit, also credited as the co-author (under his character’s name) of The Bro Code. So, while the press release may be alarmingly vague, we can hope that the end product will be offbeat and entertaining even if the phrase “interactive, nonlinear reading experience” makes it sound like a code for “couldn’t think of a plot or theme so put in dot-to-dot puzzles”.

What do you think – does it sound like wonderful whimsy, edgy-experimentalism or just indulgent idiocy? Will you be standing in line to buy it? Crown Archetype, who are part of the Random House, Inc publishing group, say that publication is set for 2014, so I guess we’ll all have to wait until then to find out.


Published by

Sadhbh Warren

Sadhbh Warren is a freelance writer and proud booklover. Her name is pronounced Sive - like five – an Irish name, easier to say than spell! She lives in Sydney, writing travel and humour articles, and is always on the lookout for a great new book.