Klatsch: Your Favorite Memoirs

by Meryl Evans | Category: Books, Meryl's Notes Blog, Writing 4 comments
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The local newspaper had a tasty article about cookie balls. It tells the story of a teacher who received round sweet treats from a student. She couldn’t figure out what they were, but she knew the treats weren’t cake balls.

The article explains that the centers of cake balls include a mix of cake crumbs and icing. The cookie balls blend cream cheese and ground sandwich cookies (Oreos and Nutter Butter, for example). A clear cut definition, wouldn’t you say? Unlike cookie and cake balls, the boundaries between memoirs and autobiographies blur.

I could quote the definition of memoir from many dictionaries, but instead I will share Writer’s Digest‘s definition. WD editor Brian A. Klems explains the difference between memoir and autobiography.

An autobiography focuses on the chronology of the writer’s entire life while a memoir covers one specific aspect of the writer’s life.

Christina Katz commented that she needs to read more because so many great memoirs await. (She must’ve read my mind because after I drafted this post, she published a list of memoir recommendations.) So I started thinking about the memoirs I’ve read and couldn’t recall a single one until I checked my books read list [pdf] (thank goodness for the list and Goodreads). In reviewing the first part of the looonnnngggg list, most were essays, autobiographies or neither. Like WD says, Amazon does put memoirs and biographies together.

I can’t think of a memoir that focuses on one aspect of a person’s life.  Oh, wait! What about Henry Kisor’s What’s That Pig Outdoors?: A Memoir of Deafness? The book focuses on Kisor’s experiences as a person who is deaf. But he shares a variety of stages in his life. So does that count as a memoir? Autobiography?

Christina’s list includes Stephen King’s On Writing, which I’ve started reading. Like Kisor, the book revolves around one topic (can you guess?) throughout his life. So does that mean Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott qualifies as a memoir?

Sounds like I need an memoir education beyond the fabulous guest post from Linda Joy Myers. Bet many others want to know the same thing.

What are your favorite memoirs? Why? What do you think of the distinction between memoir and autobiography?

klatsch n. “A casual social gathering, usually for conversation.” Source: The Free Dictionary AKA A meryl.net blog post centered on a discussion topic.

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  • Posted by Tweets that mention Klatsch: Your Favorite Memoirs | Meryl.net -- Topsy.com on April 8th, 2010, 11:04 AM

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tin Hang Liu. Tin Hang Liu said: RT @merylkevans Klatsch: Your Favorite Memoirs http://bit.ly/dagOho #SMM […]

  • Posted by Dawn Herring on April 8th, 2010, 12:18 PM

    I find memoirs to be a more intense and emotionally connecting in the telling of an important aspect of a person’s life, even if it covers their whole life span.
    An auto biography is feels more general in nature to me. I’ve read both kinds (they are usually labelled on the front either memoir or autobiography.) The context and format is different.

    I’m a huge fan of memoir, always looking for good titles. 🙂

  • Posted by George Angus on April 9th, 2010, 10:19 AM

    Hi Meryl,

    Never been too big a fan of this genre. I’ve seen a lot of things recently that indicate these are the “next big thing” – which would be okay with me, if it knocks those stinking vampire books down a notch or twelve.

    btw, your tweet meme button seems to be inop the last few times I’ve been here.

    .-= George Angus’s blog …I Publish Thee, I Publish Thee Not =-.

  • Posted by Meryl Evans on April 11th, 2010, 4:51 PM

    @Dawn, I like your definitions. What are your top three memoirs?

    @George, I’m withcha! I can’t even bring myself to watch “Twilight,” the movie. Thanks for heads up on RT button. It drives me nuts. Sometimes it uses a different URL shortening service and sometimes it uses @tweetmeme in the RT instead of @merylkevans.

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