Creating a memoir must be difficult. 1) It’s not actually “creating,” but perhaps a much more difficult job of taking life experiences, categorizing them, and then choosing which to use in order to get across the tale that readers will talk about. And, 2), Trying to be “personal” with strangers…wondering if too much or too little was said when the cover is wrapped around it and put up for sale.
I have certainly read my share of memoirs/biographies – from celebrities to politicians – but I have to say that many, if not most, never related to me on what I’d call a personal level until just recently.
I was given a memoir to review. Not a ‘big’ name. Not a ‘big’ publishing house. But the cover was familiar; “family” being the core of that word. It was simplistic on the outside, white with a black and white photo, nothing that would claim the eye and draw someone across a library to see what it was about. And the subject, a woman who literally was braver than any Marvel character I’ve witnessed, who went through WWII and came out the other end, is not a new subject. I understand this. But the way the book was written, a chapter based in the time where this woman was doing her best to keep chin above water and family from harm; followed by a chapter of the same woman, same family, telling jokes and living life in Florida, worked. Much like the cover, the story was black and white: no fancy words, no Nobel Prize winning phrases…just humor, kindness and love set between hardship, diversity and fear.
Personally, I will never attempt the memoir world – not only because very few readers would like to know how I got in trouble for snoring in Algebra class or how I changed the world with my attempt at hockey. (Note: ice is slick, people…and the walls around a rink hurt when the head smashes into them). But the main reason I will never attempt this process is because after this one unknown title, I can honestly now see how difficult it would be to emit humor, while also educating, ‘showing’ and not ‘telling’ history, and being able to share the darkest and best of moments that will affect (hopefully, many) strangers for a good, long time. For those who did this or are planning to tackle it in the future, my hat is off to you.