Memoir: Endless possibilities


When I decided to write a memoir I had a certain idea of what a memoir was. I’m sure we all have our own expectations as readers when we pick up a book labeled “memoir”. I know I do.

As I’m sure Oprah did. I didn’t like how Oprah publicly flogged James Frey in front of millions of people. I don’t believe it was Frey’s fault though. Oprah made a huge mistake that made such an event possible. She neglected to define what memoir was for herself. She neglected to examine the vast possibilities of memoir.

When I decided that I wanted my book to be categorized as a memoir I quickly realized that I needed to make sure that my definition of what a memoir was fit into that genre. I needed to define it for myself. There are some books that actually have the word memoir on its cover. That makes it easy. But some books don’t say memoir like ‘A Million Little Pieces’. That can make things a little foggy. We all need to define memoir for ourselves before we flog someone for not meeting our expectations. I like that memoir authors’ seem more up front and open about the idea of their books having embellishments and not being as accurate as a bio.

The movie Great Expectations with Ethan Hawk defines Memoir in its first few lines for me: I’m not going to tell my story as it happened, I’m going to tell it the way I remember it.
Not verbatim.


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