Clay Byars—author of Will & I, his recently released memoir about being an identical twin—tackles big life questions and the writing process with Drew Broussard for FSG Originals. Edited by Byars’s friend John Jeremiah Sullivan, Will & I explores “the sense that I was more than myself,” as a twin, as Byars puts it, and the meta-conscious act of storytelling....more
Posts Tagged: memoir
To research her book Without You, There Is No Us, Suki Kim worked undercover as an ESL teacher in North Korea. Kim was reluctant to call the work a memoir, believing that to do so “trivialized” her investigative reporting. The result was a backlash from critics, who called her undercover methods “dishonest.” At The New Republic, Kim responds to her critics:
Here I am telling my story to you, the reader, essentially to beg for acknowledgment: I am an investigative journalist, please take me seriously.
While I couldn’t read “In Gratitude” without a persistent lump in my throat, and without the persistent awareness that its author was … experiencing the very last days or hours or minutes of her life, Diski’s final book proves transcendently disobedient, the most existence-affirming and iconoclastic defense a writer could mount against her own extinction.
Countering our culture’s disregard for all things elderly, comics have become a medium of choice for celebrating the lives of our oldest and wisest generation. Bird in a Cage (Conundrum Press, 2016) joins a growing roster of graphic novels about the elderly that explore how much they are loved, how rich and complicated their lives are, and how difficult it can be to say goodbye to them....more
For Lit Hub, Sarah Hepola takes on the muddy ethical questions of memoir-writing by asking her mother and father what it felt like to be portrayed in her book:
I was being paranoid, but those of us who write memoirs should never underestimate the damage they can cause.
[Memoir] comes alive at the fissures of its coherency: when a narrator is struggling to hold the self together in a text—for the reader’s sake if not also her own.
Scott F. Parker met up with Maggie Nelson at AWP to talk about her writing, her sudden popularity, memoir (or life writing), autotheory, and Buddhism for The Believer’s interview series, Stories of Self—complete with illustrations by Nelson’s partner, Harry Dodge....more
A connection so fundamentally optional doesn’t provide the same ambivalence and tension you get with alcoholic parents, narcissistic spouses, or resentful bosses. If your friend abuses you or your trust, you can just walk away.
Slate’s Laura Miller explains why nobody writes memoirs about their friends, and then looks at two recent books that take up the challenge of doing so....more
For Threadless.com’s new monthly Women & Comics interview series, Gina H. Prescott speaks to cartoonist/writer/historian Julia Wertz. Wertz discusses her autobiographical comics; her historical and cityscape comics for the New Yorker and Harper’s; and offers advice to young artists and writers on incorporating personal material into their work....more
Memoirs get a bad rap, for reasons both legitimate and superficial. With a work of unintentional autobiography under his belt, Lucas Mann grapples with the stigma of the reflexive:
To put it bluntly, memoir is the only literary form still defined by its shittiest iterations.
The Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace has announced that Hatchette Books will be publishing her memoir Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout. The book was written with Noisey’s Dan Ozzi, who has said of the project:
The book mixes narrative about Laura’s life—growing up with dysphoria and playing in our generation’s most influential punk band—with amazing journal entries she’s been keeping since she was a kid.
Since its publication twenty years ago, Frances Mayes’s memoir Under the Tuscan Sun has transformed its namesake Italian setting into a sort of synonym for a wealthy lifestyle. Travel writer Jason Wilson revisited the work only to discover exactly the charms it so frustratingly popularized:
However I feel about Mayes and her privilege, and the marketing phenomenon that has flourished in her wake, there’s no denying that her prose brings Bramasole to life.
Word by word, and brick by brick, I began understanding the foundation of myself—of where I had been, and where I would go—from previously unseen angles.
Over at Brevity’s nonfiction blog, Lauretta Zucchetti shares her experience of finding herself and overcoming emotional pain through the writing process....more
Over at Book Riot, Hannah Engler discusses memoir, when the absolute truth is necessary, and why it is okay—even unavoidable—to fabricate facts:
Fabrication is inherent in memoir writing. Number one, it’s impossible to have an unbiased view of your own life, period; number two, it’s impossible to write about something in the past tense and not see it through the lens of the present.
Truth—a higher, bigger truth—is what I want when I read. I want to nod my head in radical understanding. I want to grasp our complex, fragile humanity better. I want the ancient truths on every page, shown in unique ways. These books deliver....more