The Art of Memoir
I don’t remember what attracted me to this book and it was only a few short weeks ago! Not remembering is a critical element of the reason I write things down and likely the reason one writes a Memoir. The Art of Memoir teaches the craft, both how to create your own and how to read a Memoir. It seems to me that there is a (very) fine line between a Memoir and Fiction. Basically, a Memoir is associations (real or imagined details) based on true events, whereas Fiction is associations based on made-up events. Writer Mary Karr knows a thing or two about Memoirs as she wrote the New York Times Bestseller The Liar’s Club (one of of the best memoirs of the past 50 years) and a long-time teacher of a creative writing course at Syracuse. As a student (and teacher) of the genre, she has collected wisdom from the very best in the business. First, Karr points out that accounts of events vary wildly depending on perspective. Every semester she orchestrates a ruse on her students where another professor disrupts her class and threatens a physical altercation; She notes that the abilities of individuals combined with group dynamics lead to significant gaps between what actually happens and what is recounted … this is the starting point! Memory fails on every level. Therefore, how important is “Truth” to the Memoir? What is "Truth" and does it even exist? Now that we have established that memory fails, we also face the reality that interpretation of the events can evolve over time. Further, there may always be a side to the story that wasn’t available to you. Anyway, see for yourself. It primes you on what to look for when writing or reading a memoir, and it is (way) easier to digest than The Liar’s Club (I have horrific images from that experience, really her experience).