A little girl’s view of Saigon, from inside the home of a top military attache, bursts with insight into the delicate balance that holds civilization together, shows how small actions can create large results, and how coming of age in a crazy world often requires a bit of craziness in response. The whole thing would look terrific on the big screen.
In his memoir, Finding Myself in Borneo, McKee generously offers a front row seat to his adventure in an interesting part of the world. But I want more from a memoir than just exotic sights. I expect to learn about the author’s inner journey as well. McKee’s memoir satisfies that desire by showing me how his adventure in Borneo helped him launch from child to adult.
Unlike Ed Sullivan who became famous for pretending to be no-man, Frank McCourt became famous for being everyman. His memoir, Angela’s Ashes was one of the early books in the modern memoir movement that demonstrated that sharing private life can raise social awareness.
The novel Catch a Dream describes such an intense, extraordinary life experience. It surprises me that most of it really happened and that you started writing it as a memoir. Tell me more about the events that you actually lived through.
How did Wendy Baez create such a moving story about a woman traveling, penniless, looking for handouts like a modern version of an ancient pilgrim? It sounds like the fever dream of a novelist driven to invent an extreme plot that would provide the backdrop for a modern Biblical story. But it wasn’t a fantasy.
If you feel that your memoir writing journey is leading you toward this quest to make better sense of one or both parents, or you want to make better sense of people who have already written about that journey, here are some more examples.
Typically a memoir is about the journey of an individual, and the narrative takes us deeply inside the author’s own point of view. Even though Farewell to Aleppo does not sit firmly within the point of view of either author or protagonist, it nevertheless offers a brilliant insightful story of the life of an ancestor. This form at the intersection of personal history and memoir brings alive the journeys of recent ancestors, supplying the author and her family with important information about their heritage and offering the rest of us a vibrant, personal view of the events of recent history.
In the great dispersal of autonomy in Western society, we continue to evolve from the authority of institutions to the wisdom of individuals. Each of us wants to know these truths on our own. And to learn those truths, we go on a journey. Memoirs enable us to share those journeys.