There used to be one type of memoir, and it was mostly—although never exclusively—reserved for the rich and famous.
Much has changed.
The one kind of memoir genre that prevailed was written by famous people about the important events in history that they had taken part in. Mostly, these accounts were about how wonderful they were and how important their roles in history had been. Often, these memoirs were about excoriating their political or business rivals and actually provided little emotional or psychological insight into the protagonist other than s/he was a “good guy.”
Today, we have more kinds of memoir types—or genres—than we could have imagined even only several generations ago. This Memoir Writer’s Blog category devoted to types of memoir is proof of that.
Today’s memoir genres—and I’m including only the subcategories in this category—include the following:
In beginning to write a memoir, you need not have a clear sense of where in the types of memoir your story is likely to fit. Some writers‚ such as Kate Christensen who began to write her Blue Plate Special with a sure sense that it would be a foodoir, know from early on what it is they are writing. Other writers, however, begin by simply writing.
When Mary Ellen Ellwell began her With No Extraordinary Power, she had no idea where the writing would bring her. Eventually she realized that, of all the types of memoir, what she most wanted to write was a professional memoir. She had been head of a National Council of Social Work Education and, in that capacity, had sponsored the adoption of the BSW which today is accepted as a gateway degree but which she had to champion over many year to get it accepted in the profession. For more on this author, click here.
Below are posts, listed chronologically, by writers who have had interesting life journeys that took them to physical and emotional arenas they had not dreamed of as young people. Links to their books are available in the articles.
If you are interested only in subcategories, click to the links in the bulleted list above.
If you would like to explore writing our own book, to examine and record your experience, click here.
The Irreplaceable Memoir
People are driven to express themselves. Each of us has a story and an urge to tell it. No other style is as effective as the irreplaceable memoir.
Kate Christensen talks about writing Blue Plate Special / An Autobiography of My Appetites and about writing in general.
In her memoir, novelist Kate Christensen, author of The Great Man and the The Astral Hotel, has undertaken to organize her lifestory around food. It is an interesting concept, a theme, around which to make sense of a lifetime. If the memoir is, as Rainer Maria Rilke said of poetry, a momentary order, then Kate Christensen has done just that.
“Kate Christensen always remembers what she ate, what was served, what was cooked, what she cooked, what it tasted like,” reads the book jacket. “…much of her life, she describes herself as being ‘a hungry lonely wild animal looking for happiness and stability.’ Having found them at long last, she finally feels able to write about her search.”
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