More About Memoir
June 07, 2021
Photo with word memories

After reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestseller Eat Pray Love, I began to seek out other memoirs, curious about the outer life and inner workings of the minds of regular people, which made for fascinating reads. Most of these stories brought home the true meaning of the adage, “truth is stranger than fiction”.  

And when I decided to tell my own story, I wondered about the definition and origin of the word ‘memoir’.

I came across the following paragraph in prolific writer and teacher Dani Shapiro’s memoir “Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage”.

“In English, the term memoir comes directly from the French for memory, memoire” David Shields offers in Reality Hunger. “And yet, more deeply rooted in the word memoir… is the ancient Greek, mermeros, an offshoot of the Avestic Persian memara, itself a derivative of the Indo-European for that which we think about but cannot grasp: mermer, ‘to vividly wonder’, ‘to be anxious’, ‘to exhaustingly ponder’.

As a memoir writer, I read a lot of memoirs (in the last year I have reviewed seven memoirs on my blog). It wasn’t hard to notice that the only memoirs of note in Indian literature are celebrity memoirs. I wondered why the genre is not as popular among Indian writers. 

While the reasons are more complicated than I can explain with my limited understanding of the market and creative forces of the world of publishing, I wanted to highlight those authors who have stepped up to write memoirs that speak to readers through true, honestly-told stories.

Each month I plan to interview a memoir writer and ask them fundamental questions that answer the why, what and how of bringing their story to life. I’m looking forward to learning more about my favorite genre. I hope you will like it too.

 

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