VOX POPULI: Prince Harry’s “Spare” reflects typical memoirs of the Internet age

I bought an electronic copy of Spare, a memoir by Prince Harry, who is 38 and the second son of Britain’s King Charles. It was released on January 10th.

I read the 400+ pages in one go, from the first passage: “The past is never dead. ItIt’s not even over,” to the last, “Thank you for wanting to hear my story in my words. I’m so thankful I’ve been able to share it so far.”

A torrent of strong negative emotions runs through the book – from a sense of inferiority stemming from the perception that he is just the stand-in for his brother, Prince William, heir to the throne of Britain, to hatred of the paparazzi who also harassed his mother, Princess Diana.

I found the description of the enemy combatants he killed during his military service in Afghanistan as “pawns removed from the board” unacceptably cynical.

Despite feeling disturbed from time to time, I continued reading the book, probably because the author deftly weaves juicy stories into decent descriptions.

Although a Japanese version is not yet available, the book has been translated into 15 languages.

More than 1.4 million copies of the original English version were reportedly sold on day one.

Meanwhile, Harry’s popularity with Brits has fallen to an all-time low.

As an avid reader of autobiographies and memoirs, I feel that a new trend has emerged in recent years in relation to books in this genre published in the West.

My impression is that more and more books focus more on personal stories than on historical perspectives.

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For example, Margaret Thatcher’s memoir The Downing Street Years, published 30 years ago, depicted historical moments she witnessed in a calm, matter-of-fact style, with her feelings described only occasionally.

Michelle Obama, on the other hand, shared many stories of failure and open feelings in Becoming, her memoir that was published five years ago.

In the internet age, readers are used to peek into the private lives of celebrities.

Memoirs and autobiographies these days offer detailed and provocative life stories in a more entertaining style than social media, with Harry’s memoirs being a case in point.

Still, I feel a little nostalgic for memoirs published decades ago that gave me a sense of depth and substance.

–The Asahi Shimbun, January 15

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column covering a wide range of topics including culture, art and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column offers useful perspectives and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.