Tuesday, August 24, 2010

More 'Moir: Recent Discoveries in the Memoir Department

Why I'm Like This: True Stories (P.S.)This was a gift from a friend who obviously knows me very well. I LOVED this book and read it in one day. I devoured every chapter, not because it was light or frivolous writing, but because the author confided in me. It is a collection of autobiographical essays arranged chronologically, each focusing on a specific topic:

• Summer camp and the social scaffolding of adolescence
• Quirky relatives
• Waitressing
• Parents' hobbies
• Caring for a grandparent with Alzheimer's
• Pregnancy, childbirth and parenting

Reading each essay was like meeting a friend for the first time, finding out what you have common, and then being fascinated by every single thing you don't have in common.

As soon as I finished the book, I found the author's website and wrote her an email. I felt a little like an awkward, gushing celebrity-stalker, but after attending the writing conference last month, I know that authors are people too and thrive on appreciation just like anyone. So I told her how much I loved her writing and that I felt like more of myself having read her book.

I found this one at a local bookstore, read the first few chapters in the store, and then couldn't stop thinking about it until I bought a copy. This author is savvy and street-smart and we have little in common but I still loved visiting her world. It's an angsty, raw, coming-of-age story. In other words it's about sex, failed relationships, tabloids, starting over before you've really begun life as an adult, making huge decisions, deciding who you want to be, and then figuring out how to achieve that. This book fit into a subcategory I'll call Memoir-as-Gossip. It was less substantial as a meditative work of nonfiction, but I still couldn't put it down. It was like a popular girl striking up a conversation with me: I couldn't walk away, no matter how inappropriate the subject matter might be.


  1. I'm so glad you loved the book. I kept laughing out loud and reading little snippets to Drew. It was brilliantly written.

  2. I've only read the first few chapters so far, but I really dig Kaplan's stuff too. Glad to hear someone else I know speak of it so highly!