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At a book festival in Fort Lauderdale, I met David Eisenhower, Ike's grandson, who was promoting his book 'Going Home to Glory: A Memoir of Life with Dwight D. Eisenhower,' in which he describes attending the Yankees' 154th game in 1961. The whole family had been following Mantle and Maris chase Babe Ruth's home run record across the country.
'Out of Africa,' Dinesen's second book, is a love story, though not the one portrayed by Streep and Redford in the film. The memoir is about Dinesen's love of East Africa - the cultures, the landscapes, the animals. The feeling that saturates the book is reverence.
A memoir should have some uplifting quality, inspiring or illuminating, and that's what separates a life story that can influence other people.
I have written a memoir here and there, and that takes its own form of selfishness and courage. However, generally speaking, I have no interest in writing about my own life or intruding in the privacy of those around me.
By definition, memoir demands a certain degree of introspection and self-disclosure: In order to fully engage a reader, the narrator has to make herself known, has to allow her own self-awareness to inform the events she describes.
I don't know where the idea originated that memoir writing is cathartic. For me, it's always felt like playing my own neurosurgeon, sans anesthesia. As a memoirist, you have to crack your head open and examine every uncomfortable thing in there.
I will say, with memoir, you must be honest. You must be truthful.
Non-fiction, and in particular the literary memoir, the stylised recollection of personal experience, is often as much about character and story and emotion as fiction is.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A memoir forces me to stop and remember carefully. It is an exercise in truth. In a memoir, I look at myself, my life, and the people I love the most in the mirror of the blank screen. In a memoir, feelings are more important than facts, and to write honestly, I have to confront my demons.
I love writing both fiction and memoir. Both have unique challenges; bottom line, fiction is hard because you have to come up with the credible, twisty plot, and memoir is hard because you have to say something true and profound, albeit in a funny way.
I'm not one of those people who's so blinded by my own work and my sweat. It's kind of risky writing a memoir when you're really part of a larger universe.
'The Things They Carried' is labeled right inside the book as a work of fiction, but I did set out when I wrote the book to make it feel real... I use my own name, and I dedicated the book to characters in the book to give it the form of a war memoir.
What is most important to me is that my narrator's voice is believable, and that, though it is clearly an absolute fiction, it has the emotional resonance of memoir.
Life Among the Savages is a disrespectful memoir of my children.
Accuse a person of breaking all Ten Commandments, and you've written the promo blurb for the dust cover of his tell-all memoir.
P. J. O'Rourke
The great thing about being a print journalist is that you are permitted to duck. Cameramen get killed while the writers are flat on the floor. A war correspondent for the BBC dedicated his memoir to 50 fallen colleagues, and I guarantee you they were all taking pictures. I am only alive because I am such a chicken.
P. J. O'Rourke
The difference between memoir and autobiography, as far as I see it, is that a memoir is there primarily to tell one particular story, whereas an autobiography tries to be a full account of a life.
A memoir is an invitation into another person's privacy.
Where would the memoir be without bipolar writers? I mean, that's what - that whole oversharing thing is really a very clear symptom of bipolar disorder. And I'm not saying that every, you know, I'm not accusing every memoirist of being bipolar. But I think in a way it's kind of a gift.
There's basically an element of fiction in everything you remember. Imagination and memory are almost the same brain processes. When I write fiction, I know that I'm using a bunch of lies that I've made up to create some form of truth. When I write a memoir, I'm using true elements to create something that will always be somehow fictionalized.
Henry Miller wrote novels, but he calls his protagonist Henry, often Henry Miller, and his books are in this gray area between memoir and novel.
Now I say I'm a diarist with an explanation I'll get back to you on. Someday I may try and write in memoir form.
I think Henry Miller has had huge influence not because he wrote about sex, but because the memoir or the nonfiction novel has become such a monumental force in American publishing, if not in literature.
I review books as a day job, and through the years I've come to view the contemporary memoir as, almost always, a saga of victimization, sometimes by others, sometimes by the self, and sometimes by illness or misfortune, leading, like clockwork, to healing and redemption.
At its best, fiction cultivates fantasy and compassion; at its worst, memoir provokes schadenfreude and prurience. The ugly truth, I fear, is that many people are drawn to sensational memoirs for the same reason they watch 'The Apprentice': they like to witness actual suffering, before-your-very-eyes humiliation.
C. S. Lewis
John F. Kennedy
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