My mentor memoirs
Updated: Jul 30, 2022
I remember the charming memoirs written by James Herriot about his life as a country vet in Yorkshire (have I got that right?). All Creatures Great and Small is perhaps the most well known, but I devoured the entire series back in the day. However, it was Frank McCourt's memoir Angela Ashes that brought memoir writing to a new level: confessional, honest, brutal at times, but ultimately redemptive. Memoir must traverse the tightrope between brag sheet and sob story in order for readers to be able to relate on a visceral level. We don't just want to read a report. We want to be swept up in story. Readers are not so interested in your successes as in how you got there and how bloomin' difficult it was!
Drinking, A love Story, by Caroline Knapp, is a good memoir to read for story structure as is Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. I haven't read Maid, by Stephanie Land, but it's at the top of my reading list. For over a year, I have been engrossed in writing my own memoir which has the down side of not affording me a lot of time to read. Regardless, when I want to be immersed in beautiful prose about setting and 'place,' I dip into Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton. It's always a good idea to have one's funny bone tickled by a memoir like The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. In the land of memoirs there is something for everyone. It's learning about our common struggles as human beings and universal values of love, forgiveness, and transcendance that makes memoirs such satisfying reads.