Tom Larson on Memoir

These are a few selections from a wonderful new book from Ohio University Press, Thomas Larson's The Memoir and the Memoirist:

“Only by lingering on something outside the self, with which he has had intimate experience, can the author disclose himself. Memoir is a relational form.” (22)

“[T]he subject of a memoir is often the self in search of an earlier or later self, who is found in the person the book gives birth to and whose awareness of past and present, in turn, becomes the focus.” (66)

“What is it about you now that's so interested in whatever stage you choose? Pressure from the now may help unearth the best phase to explore, especially the unfinished ones that haunt us the most.” (67)

“[T]he memoirist is she who sticks with the form long enough to undergo changes in how she sees the past. The act of memoir writing and its river of recollections has made her different from the person she would have been had she not traversed the rapids. The act has also changed and deepened those predictably indulged and semitrue stories she's been telling herself and others, no doubt, for years.” (113)

“Once we realize that the here and now has the greatest control over the personal narrative, we are saying, in effect, that the core self can never be found. It can only be activated now and in the succession of now's memoir writing activates.” (131) (Cool, very Buddhist!)

“Unlike the sum-happy autobiography or the sin-absolving confession, memoir allows a reanimation of, and a relational bout with, one's authenticity.” (135)


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