writing in defense of memoir in Chicago Tribune

Thursday, November 21, 2013

In the Chicago Tribune this weekend I am writing in defense of memoir—and in celebration of the structurally intriguing work of Terry Tempest Williams, Joan Wickersham, and Susanna Kaysen.

The piece begins like this, below, and continues here. Please share it, if you are so inclined.

She leans in and tells me a story. There are two sisters, she says, both in their 70s. Each possesses a ferociously “true” version of a shared childhood scene. All these decades later, the sisters still can't agree, still won't agree, on the scene — not on its particulars, not on its meaning. One sister has to be right, and one sister has to be wrong — the proof is controvertible. Imagine the memoirs these two sisters might separately write. Whose would you read? Whose would you finish? How would you know who is telling the truth? Which of the two stories matter?


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