All about me-moir

memoir post

When I sit down to write, one of my main challenges is to concentrate over the din of the voices in my head, doing their best to derail me with their underhand insults and sheer spite. They say things like, ‘no one is going to read this you know. At least you better hope so. It is so awful you’ll never live it down. Might as well write “blah blah” and then copy and paste 30,000 times.’ The worst snipe concerns my personal revelations, and it goes along the lines of ‘how awfully self-absorbed this is. And really, who cares? No one is interested in hearing about your little life and your trite thoughts.’

Last week I came across the mother of all comebacks in a book by the wonderful Frederick Buechner. Explaining why he talks about his life in ‘Telling Secrets’ he writes-

‘My story is not important because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it anything like right, chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours. Maybe nothing is more important than that we keep track, you and I, of these stories of who we are and where we have come from and the people we have met along the way because it is precisely through these stories in all their particularity, as I have long believed and often said, that God makes himself known to each of us most powerfully and personally.’

My second and just as powerful counter attack is to remind myself- the voice is no one else’s after all- of those memoirs I have loved, and resonated with and grown to be a bigger human for having spent time in their pages. Here’s a list of some old favourites. Please let me know yours so I can get to know them too.

Augustine, Confessions

Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl

Marq de Villiers, The Heartbreak Grape: a Californian winemaker’s search for the perfect pinot noir

Nathan Foster, Wisdom Chaser: finding my father at 14,000 feet

Lucy Grealy, Autobiography of a Face

Stephen King: On Writing: a memoir of the craft

Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions: a journal of my son’s first year

Eric Lomax, The Railway Man

Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

Kathleeen Norris, Acedia and Me: A marriage, monks and a writer’s life

Eugene Peterson, The Pastor: a memoir

Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy: a story of faith, tragedy and triumph

Lauren Winner, Still: notes on a mid-faith crisis

Elizabeth Wurtzel: Prozac Nation: young and depressed in America- a memoir

2 thoughts on “All about me-moir”

  1. Dave Faulkner says:

    Ian Morgan Cron, ‘Jesus, My Father, The CIA, And Me’

  2. joswinney says:

    Dave, you are the third person to recommend this- time to read it. Thanks so much.

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