Lately I have found myself partaking in the literature genre known as “Memoirs”. I’m not entirely sure why, but I find myself much more taken with the lives of others than I am with my own life at this moment in time; I suppose it could be attributed to our country’s deep fascination with Reality Television. However, for me personally, I think it is because for the past few months I have been in a bit of a rut in my own life, and to escape I indulge in the humorous, yet poignant, lives of complete strangers.
While my fascination with the lives of other people is nothing new (after all, I am an “Observe Others First” Introvert), it was recently renewed when I was introduced to David Sedaris on a 6 hour drive back from Omaha. Have no fear, I was not reading while driving; we were listening to his books on CD. Thanks to Lynnea and Krista (who were the owners of the fabulous discs) the boring landscape of Iowa has never flown by so quickly!
One of the things I like most about Sedaris and his memoirs is how he, through his stories and memories, gives you some life lesson to think about at the end of the chapter. I don’t know if this is intentional or not, but in my opinion, this is an ingredient that sets good memoirs a part from great memoirs. Some people write their memoirs with the sole purpose of entertainment; some like the attention of having their whole life in a book for everyone to read. When you can include humor, sentimentality, and make others think, I believe you have struck gold.
“Girl Meets God” by Lauren Winner is probably one of my favorite memoirs, hands down. In it, Winner leads us down the path that led her to God and faith in Christ. She does it in such a way that, if you have already found such faith, you want to rediscover it. It is humorous, sad at times, but at the end of the chapter, you are thinking about your own life and how her life lessons compare or can impact yours.
Memoirs are fascinating when done right, purely entertaining and escapism if they miss that one key ingredient. However, after reading many other memoirs (about nannies, brothers on journey’s, one man’s attempt to cross Ireland in a donkey cart, why faith is blue like jazz, etc) I have come to a conclusion: I should not write my memoirs.
No one would read it.
Well, maybe they would, if I could do it right. I’m such a sad perfectionist when it comes to writing; it would probably take me 50 years to do so. By that time, people probably wouldn’t think I’m funny as much as crazy.
But maybe, just maybe, people could learn from my life. I mean, there has to be a life lesson somewhere in the time when, at age 16, I plucked out my own eyebrows while reading Frank Peretti’s “The Visitation.”
Or maybe not.