Thursday, February 16, 2012

The End in Memoir

Here's a little chuckle for you on a genre that often leaves little to chuckle about. Last Sunday I went to a memoir event: Moment Magazine was presenting the winners of its memoir contest at Spertus Institute, and Shalom Auslander was providing some spice. And he did.

I haven't read his notorious memoir Foreskin Lament, so I don't have an opinion on that, but he did not read from it, nor did he read from his new novel Hope, A Tragedy. Rather, he spoke about writing memoir. Here's what stuck in my head because it made me laugh:

"If you write memoir," he said, " you have to get used to this kind of thing: After a reading, a guy comes up to me and says, you know, your book - I really liked the beginning, but I didn't like the end."


  1. That made me laugh out loud too. My memoir will be published by Sourcebooks this fall. In it my dog and I both survive cancer. One of my friends (only somewhat jokingly!) said, "you know, it's a better story if you died." I responded, "Yes, but much harder to write." I will definitely have to laugh if someone tells me they don't like the ending--it's even given away in the title "The Dog Lived (and So Will I)." ;-)

  2. I'm laughing out loud right now!!! That is sooo funny. I was just thinking yesterday about memoirs (you were the one who helped me understand the difference between them an the full autobiography)- anyhow, I was thinking about how they highlight a particular season or event or part of our lives- and usually it is some sort of growing experience. Often the ending may not be what we would like but the internal growth is always what we want.

    I'm reading a memoir right now called Elsie- and I'm really enjoying it- I think I'm going to like the ending :)

  3. So funny. But close to home because one thing that drags me down as I write is I don't know how the story ends (i.e., life goes on). See you at AWP soon.

  4. That is funny. I needed that chuckle today!

  5. Teresa - congrats on your memoir coming out in the fall. The topic sounds intriguing. Glad to hear the "end in memoir" snippet resonated with you.

    Anjuli - you got the definition right, glad to hear you're enjoying reading memoirs.

    Julie - yes, looking forward to meeting you at AWP.

    Kara - glad to hear it made you laugh.

  6. Brilliant! Like Deb, I'm not going to say no either!
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