Tag Archives: Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture

What’s Spiritual about Memoir?

Pens that can fly


Th
is is from a talk I gave at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture in October 2010. It’s about why memoir is good. 🙂 For writers, readers, and the entire world.

I started writing memoir in the early 90s, when I was a journalist at the Village Voice. And almost inevitably, when I was at a party or the gym or a political meeting and said what I was doing, someone would ask, “Aren’t you a little young for that?”  I was 28 when I began.  And I would take a deep breath and answer, “No.”

Before the late 1980s, people generally used the word “memoir” to mean a fat and comprehensive book written by someone at the end of their lives, almost always someone very famous, like a president or a movie star or a Titan of Industry.

Of course, people who weren’t as prominent as that had been writing personal accounts of their lives for hundreds of years, thousands if you count poetry. They just hadn’t been calling them memoirs. Continue reading