The problem with unreliable narrators — and the thing that makes them so delightful to read in fiction — is that by design, you never quite know when they are telling the truth. Which makes it a stunningly poor choice of conventions to employ when writing about sexual assault, a crime that victims are often accused of fabricating, either wholesale or in parts.
Posts Tagged: memoir
Fittingly ending the memoir with a scene at the La Brea Tar Pits, which trapped and fossilized the unfortunate prehistoric creatures who wandered into them, Ortiz speaks of her personal excavation as a perpetual journey, a necessary exploration of a hidden story.
Brian Turner discusses his new memoir, My Life as a Foreign Country, the Iraq War, poetry and prose, and his family’s long history of serving in the military....more
Suki Kim discusses her new memoir, Without You, There Is No Us, going undercover for research, growing up as an immigrant to the U.S., and spending six months trapped in North Korea....more
Alysia Abbott discusses craft and love in her new memoir, Fairyland, set in the ’70s and ’80s during the AIDS crisis in San Francisco....more
Jane Rosenberg LaForge discusses her new book An Unsuitable Princess, being a New York writer from L.A., and how women get short shrift in fairy tales....more
M.E. Thomas, author of Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight, discusses writing a memoir, being a lawyer and a Mormon, the unreliability of memory—and, of course, being a high-functioning sociopath....more
Rumpus columnist Thomas Page McBee has just released a new memoir, Man Alive. The new book is, in his words, “basically a prequel” to the Self-Made Man column, and attempts to answer the question “what does it really mean to be a man?” Check out the book that Roxane Gay says “shows us what it takes to become a man who is gloriously, gloriously alive.” McBee will also be at The Strand bookstore in New York City in October....more
In February 2013, just over a year before her death, Maya Angelou spoke to Whitney Mackman about her writing process, her influences, and the act of looking for joy....more
“We’re doing this because we’re buds and we’re starting new books. We’ve always talked our ideas through with each other; it’s always helped. Through these conversations, we’ve grown as writers together.”
Josh Weil and Mike Harvkey have been longtime friends. Now, both with new novels on the way, they have embarked on a five day trip through America to talk about their writing....more
In an era when people live tweet every aspect of their lives, the memoir might seem an antiquated notion. Dani Shapiro disagrees. Status updates are immediate, instant acts of narcissism. Writing a memoir requires introspection and distance. Shapiro explains over at The New Yorker:
It is only with distance that we are able to turn our powers of observation on ourselves, thus fashioning stories in which we are characters.
In 2011, Phyllis Rose read every book on the LEQ-LES shelf in the New York Public Library and wrote about the experience in an essay collection called The Shelf. In doing so, Rose joined the long tradition of “bibliomemoirs”—a blend of autobiography and literary criticism....more
But in the grand scheme of things, immersion journalism and other forms of narrative nonfiction, such as memoir, have done more for me as a reader than as a writer, allowing me to vicariously experience things I’d be too much of a wuss to ever even try, and to consider versions of life that generally feel out of reach.
Personal narratives offer writers an important source of inspiration for their writing. Writers edit out the dull portions of their lives to create a version that is both interesting and representative of a kind of universal experience. Kim Triedman writes at Beyond the Margins:
It is a symbiotic relationship to the core.
Worried you are too young to be working on a memoir? Worried you are revealing too many deep dark secrets and your relatives will disown you forever? Author Gary Shteyngart, 41—which he says is 74 in Russian years—shares some words of wisdom:
Which leads to the first question a memoirist must ask: What should I hold back?
Memoirist and Atlantic Wire blogger Jen Doll talks about weddings, open-bar hijinks, and what does and doesn’t work for her commitment-wise....more
Six-time novelist Kate Christensen talks about the shift to memoir, the benefits of blogging, using food as a springboard to tell the story of one’s life, and American society’s ongoing problem with pressuring women to be thin....more
Writer Kevin Brockmeier talks about his memoir A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip, the painful nature of seventh grade, treading the line between fact and fiction, and why he would save Karen Russell in the event of a nuclear apocalypse....more
NPR has an interview with author Tom Robbins about his new memoir, Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life. He gives some insight into his experience as a novelist-turned-memoirist, saying that writing a memoir is like driving down a once-familiar road,
…but there are potholes in it now, and some fast-food franchises sprung up along the way, and there’s occasionally a blind curve that you might not remember.
Faced with parenting children who have no qualms about bursting into tears, Zoe Zolbrod revisits her own stoic childhood, two generations of secret abuse, and whether crying may hold the power to protect....more
John W. Evans talks about his memoir Young Widower, which was partly borne from two Rumpus essays, and how to make meaning of something—especially grief and loss—if not through narrative....more
Sari Botton and Rebecca Walker talk about the challenges of writing about parents, becoming estranged from them, and then moving together past estrangement, to eventually heal the rift....more
Essayist and writer Geoffrey Wolff talks about the universality of experience, why good memoir draws more attention to the characters around you, and trading writing tips with his brother Tobias....more