Saturday, February 13, 2016

Why We Write About Ourselves - and Others Read What We Write

I am hopelessly hooked on reading memoirs...memoirs of authors, actors, singers, politicians, addicts, and the most ordinary human beings in the world willing to tell me their story.  Over the last several years, I have filled shelves with my favorite memoirs, and I continue to read 15 or 20 new ones a year.  It has gotten so bad that I find myself wanting to read not just memoirs, but books about memoirs and those who write them.  

A fascinating aspect of memoirs is how often one leads directly to another.  It is often the case that the author's family, friends, and associates are hurt, humiliated, and angered by what they read.  Either they do not remember the incidents being recounted, they remember those incidents very differently from what they read, or they never intended for anyone else to learn of them in the first place.  And what memoirist is not going to be tempted to tell the rest of us all about it?  That's probably why one of my favorite 2015 books was Mary Karr's The Art of Memoir (reviewed last November) in which Karr shares more than writing tips and techniques, she also speaks of the reaction to her books that her mother and sister had - and how their feelings changed over time.

And now I see that Meredith Maran has a new book called Why We Write About Ourselves, and I know I won't be able to resist anything with that title for very long - so here I go again.

The two videos shown below feature Maran's Why We Write About Ourselves and Karr's The Art of Memoir.  


  1. Wow, you really do have the bug! I'll be interested to hear more about Why We Write About Ourselves

    1. Memoir writing is so tricky that even those who write them can never really be sure when they stray from fact to's all about selective memory and perception. That fascinates thus the reaction to memoirs by those mentioned in memoirs.