One of the more mysterious characters from President Obama's 1995 autobiography Dreams From My Father is the so-called 'New York girlfriend.' Obama never referred to her by name, or even by psuedonym, but he describes her appearance, her voice, and her mannerisms in specific detail.
But Obama has now told biographer David Maraniss that the 'New York girlfriend' was actually a composite character, based off of multiple girlfriends he had both in New York City and in Chicago.
No intelligent person takes a memoir or autobiography at face value. Even when the author/subject is critical of themselves, what's interesting and often revealing is exactly how
they criticize themselves, and what
about themselves they find less-than-admirable. Equally interesting, and often revelatory, is what gets left out: there is no hint in "The Education of Henry Adams" that its author/subject had ever been married. Which tells us rather a lot
But a reader of autobiography, presented with declarative sentences setting out matters of fact (rather than judgment, perception, or reaction), may be excused for expecting such information to be . . . true. The "composite character" is the stuff of historical fiction, screen adaptation, and the roman a clef
On the other hand, this notion may be useful, come November, when we must decide whether the President is a composite of Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt, or instead consists of equal parts Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter.