Tuesday, October 19, 2010
"Do not go gentle..."
Memoirs are not for wimps!
They are the last word of dying men.
They stand for eternity, trees planted on firm ground, overlooking the abyss. Memoirs are the last will and testament of those who are brave enough or crazy enough to take pen in hand and committ their thoughts to paper, to eternity.
Or so I thought!
Lately, I've been reading memoirs written by twenty-something, people who have had about a fourth of their lifespan behind them. They wrap up their experiences in a big fat ribbon and call Julia Roberts to play them on the big screen. Julia will evoke all sorts of personalities from all the movies she has done, and voila', we have a rich banquet of characters to satisfy all hungers.
I believe President Carter's White House Diaries and his memoirs are the words of a man who had a presidency that was misunderstood, or over-critical. Why, even his party was fighting him. Yes, he needs to set the record straight, explain himself, explain the situation he found himself in, explain the country at that juncture.
Memoirs are as real as the photographs we take. The background, what came before and after, what is not illuminated, these are elements manipulated by the writer.
A memoir like Stephen Elliott's The Adderall Diaries adds another layer to the mix. It is a self-study: "This book (is) functioning as an external memory I go over every day." (p.102)
Memoirs are more important to the writer than any thing else he/she writes. Memoirs pin down experiences and feelings revisited and re-interpreted. An impressive process!
Everything we produce is a part of us. Memoirs are the most transparent.