DOUGLASS: THE LOST AUTOBIOGRAPHY by D. Harlan Wilson

reviewed by Gabino Iglesias | Friday, March 14th, 2014

"Douglass: The Lost Autobiography" by D. Harlan WilsonRaw Dog Screaming Press, 111 pages, paperback, $12.95

Douglass: The Lost Autobiography is the last book in D. Harlan Wilson‘s Biographizer Trilogy. In the second book, Freud: The Penultimate Biography, Wilson mentions he hasn’t decided if the final book would be about Tom Cruise or about African-American social reformer and writer Frederick Douglass. The title of the book clearly shows who won that battle, but Cruise is also in there, and he’s jumping on and off couches.

Every book in the Biopgraphizer Trilogy (aka the Angry Black Author trilogy) has a bit of self-critique (mostly done in jest and as a way of revealing some of the most strangest aspects of writing). This time around, it comes though Wilson’s wife, who calls him out while riding in the author’s Mini Cooper, a vehicle that ends up becoming a character in readers’ heads by the time they’re done reading the three books:

“The whole ride she complained about how this isn’t a real novel. I kept telling her she’s right, I know, it’s a biography, not a completely accurate biography, but a biography nonetheless, and really it’s a kind of autobiography, and it’s not as mean and trivial and snooty as you keep saying, even though I’m writing it at the speed of light.”

The speed of light is accurate: this book has a few chapters that were written in less than a minute. The author is also honest about that. And about making these narratives about himself at times. And about anything else you can imagine. Or not.

There’s much that deserves attention in Douglass: The Lost Autobiography, but this is the third review and there’s not much I can say here that wouldn’t sound like a rehash of what I’ve already said about this wonderful, witty, and wildly entertaining trio of (non/auto)biographies. Wilson works on a bizarre level that can be enjoyed by anyone looking for a fast-paced, entertaining read as well as by readers who are looking to do a bit of deconstruction and like being challenged by a barrage of academic and pop culture references that go from pretty obvious to truly obscure.

The Biographizer Trilogy is, as Wilson would put it, all about fiction, nonfiction, anti-fiction, outré-fiction, cryo-fiction, and superzero-fiction. Oh, and meta-fiction. Taken together, the three books add up to an interconnected, complementary read that stands far from anything else currently happening in fiction…and nonfiction. These are books about D. Harlan Wilson (both real and his persona), his ideas, knowledge, family, and passions. They’re also books about outré characters, writing, drinking, eating, pushing the boundaries of fiction, watching television, dealing with publishers, explosions, and weirdness.

Gabino Iglesias is writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of Gutmouth and a few other things no one will ever read. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias.