A small portion of my memoir library

Depending on whom you ask—or what lens you apply—memoir is either a boomlet that burst or a timeless form just now coming into its own. The first lens, the literary lens, gets a fair amount of press attention. The second lens, a more hidden one, may need a little more magnification. While I believe memoir is just coming into its own, let’s look at a few expert views.

The Literary Lens: A Genre Comes Into Its Own

Some call our time “the age of memoir,” most notably William Zinsser in Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir (1998).

Thomas Larson, in The Memoir and the Memoirist: Reading & Writing and Personal Narrative (2007), makes memoir sound like Davy Crockett when he says it burst forth “sui generis from the castle of autobiography and the wilds of the personal essay.”

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Read the rest at Jane Friedman’s blog here. Be sure to read the comments at the end. And add one of your own!




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Shirley Showalter


  1. Bex on September 12, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    It’s good to hear Memoir writing has a niche. I’m in the process of completing mine, editing it like mad so that it’s not boring and the main character and supplimentary characters are relatable/likeable, etc.

  2. shirleyhs on September 12, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Bex, thanks for stopping by. All best with your memoir. Let’s stay in touch.

  3. Richard Gilbert on September 14, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Your guest post is very interesting, Shirley, and only whets my thirst—doubtless forever to be unslaked—to know the answer to this riddle. Love the glimpse of your great memoir bookshelf, too. It would be interesting to know which ones have most helped you in your own memoir writing process.

    • shirleyhs on September 14, 2012 at 5:45 pm

      Richard, thanks much for your kind words about the post. It was really fun to meet some new people by guest posting and also to have a new conversation with “old” friends like you. 🙂 Thanks for participating.

      I hope to go back to my top ten list and reread some of them for guidance as I get to the revision stage next month. Here’s the list. http://shirleyshowalter.com/top-memoir-lists/

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