The Memoir These Days

Nancy Pearl, Steve Scher, Katy Sewall and the big table of readers at the Bryant Corner Cafe talk about the status of the memoir these days.


We all lead lives that generate stories.  Do these stories only have credibility when they are shared with others?  Do we need to try to get them published to feel good about our efforts?  Some critics are wondering whether this self-congratulatory age is producing too many memoirs.

When author Ryan Boudinot published a critical article about fledgling writers,  he struck a note so sour that he undermined support for efforts to get Seattle designated as a UNESCO City of Literature.  

Among his quotes of note from the article:

For the most part, MFA students who choose to write memoirs are narcissists using the genre as therapy. They want someone to feel sorry for them, and they believe that the supposed candor of their reflective essay excuses its technical faults. Just because you were abused as a child does not make your inability to stick with the same verb tense for more than two sentences any more bearable. In fact, having to slog through 500 pages of your error-riddled student memoir makes me wish you had suffered more.”

The folk at The New Yorker Out Loud Podcast are also thinking about memoirs.  In particular they were wondering about the state of the memoir in the era of instant reportage thru social media.

 Around the table at the Bryant Corner Café, we talk about some of our favorite memoirs, biographies, autobiographies, all the while musing on the state of the memoir in the modern times.