Another aspect of the memoir

When you write a memoir you risk hurting someone’s feelings.  I’ve always imagined this being the writer hurting their parents, not a writer hurting their children.  I don’t know why my brain hadn’t thought along this counter-line but it just hadn’t–not until I read a piece in the Times about the recent controversy over a memoir called “The Lost Child” by British writer, Julie Myerson, who has written about her son’s drug addiction.  Her son, now 20, has condemned the book.

Should a writer be able to expose not only her own dirty laundry but also that of those around her?  Seems like society is more accepting of the exposure of a drunken, child-beating parent than it is of a parent exposing the sins of their child.

Thoughts on this controversy?

5 thoughts on “Another aspect of the memoir

  1. I believe this author might have saved herself some grief had she had her son read it before publishing. I’m not an expert, but wouldn’t he have to sign a release before publication?

    I’m writing a memoir that I decided to fictionalize. Do they call it fictionalized memoir? Anyway, I imagine if I’m lucky enough to get an agent, he or she will still have me obtain releases since it’s based on real people.

  2. This is an interesting question and my first thought would be “no.” I don’t think that you have to have a release signed for writing about someone. For using their image–such as a photo or video of them, yes, but I don’t think for writing about them. Academic studies that publish data about humans require IRB approval–that’s “Institutional Review Board” approval to ensure that the humans have not been harmed in the data-collecting but it’s to protect them from harm DURING the process not as a result of the writing about the process. Those individuals then must give consent for data to be collected but NOT for data to be published.

    Does anyone know the legalities of this issue?

    By the way, tell us about your memoir?

  3. My memoir–now fiction–is a fish-out-of-water story about wild Okies moving to L.A.’s ghetto in the ’60s and ’70s. After barely surviving that they move to an affluent area where it becomes more of a Beverly Hillbillies story. Yes, it is a humor novel.

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