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Waxler’s Memoir Revolution Helps Writers Understand a Cultural and Literary Revolution

Jerry Waxler is clearly a man who knows his way around memoir writing.

Those of us who have been following his blog, post after post, at Memory Writers Network and have immensely enjoyed his thoughtful commentary on memoir writing, his in-depth profiles of leading memoirist and memoir professionals, and his penetrating reviews of hot-off the press memoirs are pleased to have his blog posts gathered in this 200-page book he has so aptly named Memoir Revolution.

Memoir Revolution is a book you will want to have on your memoir bookshelf.


When I started memoir work in 1988, people would say to me, “I may be nuts, but I want to write my memoir.” That sort of put down is no longer what I experience people saying. People come to my workshops and tele-classes feeling that there is a rightness to what they want to do. They smile, they are excited, they are full of anticipation about what they are about to do. As Jerry so rightly points out, “…memoirs have exploded from a specialized niche into a central feature of our literary and popular culture.”

“By translating our individual experience into [memoir],” he continues, “the seemingly fragmented world becomes an understandable, united one

I don’t ant you to think that Memoir Revolution is a book about how to write your memoir. There are many books on the market today on how to write your memoir (my own Turning Memories Into Memoirs being one of the early ones—and I like to think best!) and this book is not one of them. Memoir Revolution is a book that is concerned with the bigger picture, the social and cultural environemtn that has fostered the nurturing of the memoir form. It is the brainchild of a keen observer and perceptive analyst of the memoir world who has concluded in this book he so aptly calls Memoir Revolution that how one perceives memoir and how one goes about writing a lifestory has changed in the last decades and that change is very much for the good. This book is about that change.

Committing more deeply to the memoir conversation

For me, Memoir Revolution was not only a book about a seismic change in memoir writing but it was even more a book about how one can commit even more deeply to the memoir conversation. What I call the memoir conversation is the continued implication in the world of memoir—first in how one lives one’s life and then in reading and writing. At the base of every commitment has to be some relationship to important questions: “Who am I? Why am I doing this? What’s the point? What is important to leave as a legacy?”

Memoir Revolution is a significant book for anyone wishing to understand the why and wherefore of memoir writing. I found myself uplifted by Jerry expositions. I’m obviously already a devotee of memoir writing. Even so, I felt encouraged and uplifted—ennobled even—in my efforts. The book’s subtitle itself will help you feel connected to the memoir conversation: Write Your Story/Change the World. The book jacket also creates a context for the reading: a Social and Literary Shift that Uses Your Story to Heal, Connect, and Inspire.

“Ennobled?” you may ask. Yes, and you would understand ennobled if you’ve read Jerry’s thoughts about the memoir writer as hero in the section titled “Memoirs Move Heroism from Fantasy to Fact.” (p. 139) In my workshops, I have frequently told writers that theirs has been a hero’s journey and so I enjoyed Jerry’s elaboration on this point. Now, I will think not only of the life being a hero’s journey but the writing itself as such a journey. Joseph Campbell presented stages of the hero’s journey. The last is the hero’s return to the community to share the gathered treasures. The literary hero returns to the community after a long quest and shares the treasure in the form of a published book—or at least in the form of a completed manuscript. Memoir as Holy Grail.

All long-term projects have their ups and downs and this book will give you oomph! to persevere in the memoir conversation. You will be placed in a great context of writers and social movement—the memoir revolution!

Jerry is a former counselor and the in-dept perceptions he shares in this book reveal his professional psychology background. Chapters deal with “Describing a Changing Self in a Changing World,” “Finding a Language for Individual Spirituality,” “Psychology Comes to Age,” “Revealing and Repairing Self-Concept.” This is great material I must confess to a bias as this material also characterizes my own work.

Memoir Revolution is an accessible read.

While the content is sophisticated, Memoir Revolution is an accessible read. Jerry introduces many well-written, personal anecdotes to bring his cogitations to the reader in a form that is easy to read. (Memoir wins out again: a literary picture is worth a thousand words!)

Jerry’s reading is seemingly encyclopedic. He seems to have read every memoir written in the last 20 years. In that regard, his bibliography is imminently useful.

This is a book you will want to have. At a jacket price of $12, Memoir Revolution is a steal. Get your book today.


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