Saturday, September 10, 2011

Stranger than Fiction?


Never was I a big memoir guy. After the Million Little Pieces/Angry Oprah charade, I shied from the genre. Something about it struck me selfish or self-indulgent. So I was kinda like WTF when I went to the Boarder's closing sale (60-80% off muddafuckaz!) and hit up the so-called biography section. They were cleared out of all the Augusten Burroughs titles, which have been recommended to be by everyone I know and I really need to finally run with some scissors. I also looked for Prozac Nation, because Elizabeth Wurtzel amuses me on twitter, but they were out of that too. Yeah, there's a reason they were 60-80% off.

GIRLBOMB. It kind of jumped off the shelf. Last of the copies, a thin little book that Entertainment Weekly compared to Girl, Interrupted on the cover. It details the true story of a chick sick of her abusive home life so she stomps out of her house and just keeps stomping, presumably into a story worthy of publication. I was intrigued. It was $4. I'll let you know how it goes.

I dug Girl, Interrupted, but only read it, because the movie makes me cry every time I watch it. I liked The Bell Jar too, which while technically is a novel, was based largely on Sylvia Plath's life and was born long before the category of "memoir," when suffering the human existence didn't allow you a "biography." Biographies used to be for dead presidents. Now they're for whoever's in office/lost the last election and they're more "autobiography" than "biography," but really it's still "biography," because I don't belive Sarah Palin wrote a book. And now biographies are also for those who have withstood suffering, those who tread.

I read another book recently, Lidia Yuknavitch's The Chronology of Water which was about a girl becoming a woman through rampant sex, drug abuse, and art. Only wrong. It wasn't really about that, it was more about becoming. I read savaged my way through the book on a fifty-two thousand hour car ride to Toronto. Dare I say I drowned in it? Please? I did.

 "Out of the sad sack of sad shit that was my life, I made a wordhouse." 
 - Lidia Yuknavitch, The Chronology of Water

Not only did the book fever me, but (here comes another water metaphor) the rush broke down that dam I had constructed for "memoir." So come on, Girlbomb. Come on, Burroughs. Come on, Fish: A Memoir of a Boy in a Man's Prision, Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood, and Leaving Dirty Jersey: A Crystal Meth Memoir. I wanna read em all. I get it now that we write about our suffering not to show off our wounds, but to understand them.

But maybe I'm just hoping someday I can write a memoir. I'm currently being ordered to wear that infamous Lindsay Lohan accessory, so maybe just maybe. I'm too in it right now to understand it though. Maybe someday. Maybe maybe maybe.

So what do you think? Memoirs: yay or nay. Tell me in the comments!


  1. I have never been a memoir kinda girl - I love my fiction! I feel like; I already living a non-fiction life, might as well enjoy a good fictional escape as a break!

  2. Fiction first and foremost, but Prof Dyer's memoir class was a real eye-opener. Assembling My Father was really good, and though I really resented Fun Home at first, I've come to appreciate it. There's been quite a few others, but I'll have to hunt through my Goodreads first...

  3. Jill, I was always the same except I'm a boy. I've found some people's lives really are stranger than fiction. I was engrossed in the mentioned memoirs just as much as I've been in some fiction. I also really enjoyed The Glass Castle.

    Sarah, I'd like to take that class! Hope it gets offered soon. I don't recall seeing it on the tentative Spring schedule though.

  4. Now see, I LOVE memoirs.the grittier the better!

    I dont know why exactly but I think it comes down to the style ( or lack thereof) of the writing. They're usually written like someone is speaking and I just eat it up. It's easy to make fun of them because yeah some DO seem pretty rediculous but then I read them and I am just submerged until its over. I am particularly 'addicted to' ( haw haw) the ones about addictions, be it celebs or joe schmoe. The darkness that comes with them just haunts me more than any vampire or werewolf does. I feel like I carry these books with me more than fiction.
    Don't get me wrong I love a good story, my favourites are usually dystopian fiction which is nearly opposite of a memior. The memoirs just.. i don't know... linger?

  5. I agree about the writing style, Alana. It's like reading a confession.