Memoir & Life Writing

There’s been a huge interest in all forms of memoir and life writing over the past few years. I’ve been teaching Life Writing for about seven years now. It’s an area which encompasses thematic memoirs such as Bob Smith’s wonderful book, Hamlet’s Dresser as well as family history which may never be published in the mainstream but remains a vital private resource.

I’ve recently read two very different memoirs which deserve mini-reviews. The first is Dispatches from the Edge of Life by The Reluctant Carer. This chronicles a period of intensive care-giving for two elderly parents in the United Kingdom. It details the frustrating, ongoing nature of caregiving with it’s bedrock of love and duty. It’s a painful and hilarious (laugh out loud in places) memoir. As a caregiver myself, this resonated and made me feel less alone on my own journey. Highly recommended.

The second is Carmen Maria Machado’s memoir of domestic abuse in the context of a lesbian relationship. Machado, whose short stories I devoured, frames her fragmentary memoir in sections which cleverly use literary genres and devices. Her own story is interspersed by reflections on other stories – real, fictional and fairy tale. I felt a sense of emptiness when I came to the end of it. That always marks a great book to me. Again, highly recommended.