Writing Memoir

“I don’t write memoir,” I thought, wondering why I was giving this book a second glance at the library.  But there was something about the subtitle that intrigued me–a “non-standardized text.”  What did Smith mean by that?

Turns out, I write memoir every time I make a blog post.  Not big important writing that will change the world, of course, but little thoughts.  Could be that these thoughts add up to something, though.  Like my life.

Marion Roach Smith’s book is an interesting read because she intersperses writing advice with first-hand examples and it’s in these examples that her writing style and life really shine.  She’s witty.  And good with words.

For example, I love this description of her mother going through the card catalog at the library, “My mother’s red fingernails, lacquered to match her lips, were flipping like sexy windshield wipers through the cards, one after the other.”

Wow–I love that description and can see it so clearly in my mind.  Of course, it’s only going to resonate with us old folks who’ve spent our lives in libraries.  How many kids today know what a card catalog is?  But still, for a select reader like me, the image is beautiful.  Vivid and clear.  I can SEE her mother.  And you know what?  That’s the only description we have as to what she looks like.  No height, weight, hair color.  I’ve been left to fill in all those details myself, which I did instantly, all based on those nails and lip color–and the way she “flipped” the cards.

This is a good read, even for those of us who don’t do much memoir writing.  The language is clear and colorful.  The approach fresh–disdainful, even, because Smith tackles so many well-known writing advice books and cuts them down.  But to say more would be a real spoiler.  I’ll let you enjoy this quick read for yourself.

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