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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 will say, with memoir, you must be honest. You must be truthful.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
A memoir should have some uplifting quality, inspiring or illuminating, and that's what separates a life story that can influence other people.
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.
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.
It is such a luxury to open a new book that's highly recommended by friends - either an inspirational yet humorously self-deprecating memoir, or a page-turning piece of fiction.
When it comes to memoir, we want to catch the author in a lie. When we read fiction, we want to catch the author telling the truth.
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
I read The Bell Jar, and then I read her memoir and her diaries, and a third book, an outside opinion. Just the way she made the pillows so neat on the oven door. It just seems to be the opposite of, if you're going to take your life, in a horrible rage it happens.
After I wrote my memoir, 'A Long Way Gone,' I was a bit exhausted. I didn't want to write another memoir; I felt that it might not be sane for one to speak about himself for many, many, many years in a row. At the same time, I felt the story of 'Radiance of Tomorrow' pulling at me because of the first book.
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 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.
John F. Kennedy
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