With the success of best sellers such as Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes, writing memoir has attained a new status in the literary world. It has achieved such power because it invites memoirists to select incidents in their past and interpret them with the emotional honesty and wisdom that only time, distance and maturity can illuminate.
Memoir is not autobiography, chronicling the epic of one's life and creating a genealogy. It is the genre that gives credibility to our deepest feelings. It can be one page or 100 and be as simple as a 10-year-old's paragraph on his love for his grandfather. It can also be as profound as James McBride's The Color of Water, a 314-page remembrance written from two viewpoints.
By writing memoir, children and adults become critical thinkers. One of the best compliments I ever received as a teacher was when an elderly woman in a class of senior citizens gleamed with great relief, explaining that I had freed her. She finally understood that she didn't have to write about her ancestors, her birth and every incident in her past. She could select the episodes that had impacted her most. She chose to write about the death of her husband, her feelings of loss and her resurrection. When she read her memoir, others in the class who identified with her grief and joy were comforted by her words.
Very interesting links if you're just getting started.Posted by Jill Fallon at October 4, 2006 1:43 PM | TrackBack | Permalink