On White Space Memoirs, in Creative Nonfiction (and thank you, BookPage)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

In the current issue of Creative Nonfiction (49), I'm ruminating out loud about something I've come to think of as "white-space memoirs"—those memoirs, as Lee Gutkind puts it in his introduction to the magazine, "that communicate truth through omission." I'm absolutely delighted to return to this magazine, which published me early in my career and stands at the heart of the creative nonfiction enterprise. This issue is focused on "strange-but-true stories of near misses." Which means it is not to be missed.

I share the opening paragraph of my essay here, but the rest must be found in the magazine proper.
What you put in. What you leave out. It all comes down to this—and the leaving out is the hardest part, the heart of the art that is memoir. Autobiography is what happened first, what happened next, what happened then; it is bricks and mortar. But not memoir. Memoir is distillation and sculpture, a probing of the places in between, a life cranked daringly apart: What was it all about? Memoir is the chronology of ideas, and the supervalent thought, and the mind in pursuit of eloquent collisions. It is the air let into the tent.
Finally, this early morning, I would like to thank Joelle Herr of BookPage magazine for her generous words about Handling the Truth. "If you can't enroll in her class, at least you can read her new book," Herr writes. "An extensive appendix featuring more than 75 recommended memoirs makes this a must-read for anyone seeking their own truth, written or not." 


kelly said...

What a beautiful excerpt. I think I'm finally understanding the difference (oh yes, you will never live that down) And Beth? Put down the computer and GO OUTSIDE and breathe the cool autumn-y air right now. I command you.

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