Memory is more than perhaps. Thoughts on researching memoir, in Book Country

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Readers of this blog know that I spent part of this past Saturday with my niece, reviewing old things in envelopes, old things stored away for countless years in my father's attic.

Funnily enough, I came home from that adventure with Julia and sat down to meet a deadline from Book Country, which had asked me to write about how memoirs can be researched.

It was a coincidence. I took advantage of it. I wrote the piece that begins like this below and can be found in its entirety here.

Earlier today my niece, Julia, and I opened the door to my father’s attic, where a single box among many boxes bears my name. I had agreed to help Julia with a school photography project—to search, with her, for elements from my past that would somehow explain who I am.

Letters were there—old boyfriends, a marriage proposal, a key-sized envelope containing the dust of some prom flowers. A postcard upon which each hand-inked letter was no larger than a sugar ant. Names: Tanya, Steven, Pierre, Rob. An evaluation from the library where I’d worked as a University of Pennsylvania student; the supervisor noted, in square boxes, that I’d been “excellent” in all things. I also read, however: Although Beth chats to her friends at the checkout desk for long periods of time, she seems to be able to continue working and be accurate.


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