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nicegrrl
09-08-2006, 01:31 AM
Ok, I see all this talk about publishing memoirs. Where does one find memoirs to read? I've seen like one memoir on the shelf in my whole life. I mean, I see autobiographies of famous and important people, but memoirs? Where? Is there some memoir section in bookstores I dont know about?

I want to read some published memoir of a non famous unimportant person. Any suggestions? What is the appeal? Other than curiosity, I have zero interest in reading about some anonymous person unless they have some really unusual story.

JennaGlatzer
09-08-2006, 01:39 AM
Yep, there's a memoir section. Some examples of memoirs that have sold really well:

Tuesdays with Morrie

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less

The Glass Castle

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

A Million Little Pieces (*cough*)

A Child Called "It"

You've heard of at least some of these... right?

Also: "unless they have some really unusual story"-- that's the point. Not everyone should be writing a memoir. You need to have an unusual story, or a heck of a compelling writing style to make the mundane interesting to read about. But preferably, you need both-- an unusual story and a compelling style.

"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" is probably my favorite memoir, but there are bunches of great ones.

nicegrrl
09-08-2006, 01:59 AM
I was thinking about "A child called It" when I said unusual story. Not that I enjoyed reading it, but it definitely was worth publishing. I didnt know heartbreaking work of staggering genius was a nonfic memoir. I'm going to guess that memoirs are the hardest works to get published because so many people write them and so few sound interesting.

JennaGlatzer
09-08-2006, 03:41 AM
They're among the hardest to get published, yes, and you're right-- so many people write them and don't realize that the world isn't interested in another sad tale just because it's a sad tale.

Lots of people have dealt with things like abuse, alcoholism, death of a family member, etc. and people often think that if something tragic has happened to them, they should write a book about it. But there has to be a reason why strangers would plunk down money for the book. And that's either going to be the unusual story, the fantastic writing style, or both.

Lavinia
09-08-2006, 05:36 AM
Funny...Memoirs and nonfiction are my absolute favorite books to read! I have only just begun to read novels (within the last few years). I find memoirs fascinating. I don't know exactly what it is. But to me, the best memoirs are those that take even a seemingly mundane subject and put such a twist on it that I have to read on. I do believe we all have a story to tell. I don't believe we all have the writing talent to take it to the next level.

I have noticed a trend though. It used to be I would have to ask for the memoir section at a bookstore. Now though, I see that they are intermixed in other sections. "A Child Called It" is a good example as it is usually in the Psychology or Self-Help section. I also notice that many are in prominent areas of bookstores. I think there is a growing interest in memoirs. But I could be wrong.

That's my 2-cents. Lavinia

veinglory
09-08-2006, 05:41 AM
Also "Angela's Ashes" -- many stories are about people's lives, even if we don't immediately think of them as Memoir.

eldragon
09-08-2006, 06:01 AM
I love memoirs and will read just about anything.


One of my all time favorites is You Ain't Got No Easter Clothes by Laura Love.

http://www.amazon.com/You-Aint-Got-Easter-Clothes/dp/1401300111/ref=sr_11_1/104-9517138-4016729?ie=UTF8

In fact, I reviewed this book on Amazon.

Here it is:
I love a good memoir, and this book is among my favorites. The story of Laura Love and her sister Lisa is one I won't soon forget. Held hostage by a mentally unstable mother, the girls learn to tolerate a childhood of extreme poverty and insanity. The author has such a way with words, you feel as if you know her. With parts so emotionally overwhelming; I literally burst out into uncontrollable laughter, for lack of more appropriate emotions. A must read for all women or all races. A breathtaking glimpse into hell.

poetinahat
09-08-2006, 06:13 AM
It's not an actual memoir, but I enjoyed The Confessions of Aubrey Beardsley, by Donald S. Olson. Beardsley was an illustrator, a friend and contemporary of Oscar Wilde; he illustrated the Complete Works of Oscar Wilde that I have.

I guess it's a fictional memoir, or "conjectural". It provides some reflective insight into Wilde, as seen from a lesser, but also bright, light.

triceretops
09-08-2006, 06:30 AM
The Moon's a Balloon, and Bring on the Empty Horses, by David Niven.

Sorry, but won't read a memoire if not by a famous personage.

Tri

Lavinia
09-11-2006, 10:41 PM
OK, so after reading Triceratops comment, I have to add one more comment.

I won't read memoirs by famous people. In fact I love reading a memoir written by a first time author. Weird I know. I guess that's what makes writing such a fantastic artistic venue...there is a book for every reader out there!

Lavinia

KTC
09-11-2006, 11:16 PM
Goddess Jenna mentioned my favourite: Heartbreaking Work...

I worship David Sedaris. I'd call his stuff memoir. Kind of a cross between short stories and essays. He is a god of humorous memoir.

KTC
09-11-2006, 11:17 PM
Also after reading that comment...I prefer non-famous memoir.

JennaGlatzer
09-11-2006, 11:28 PM
Me too, normally. And I'll tell ya why: if you're a famous person, publishers will publish your memoir whether you actually have an interesting story or not. If you're Joe/Jane Average, then there had to be a reason the publisher thought your book was really special! To me, it's usually the latter that's the more compelling read.

There are exceptions. Gilda Radner's memoir, which I still have no idea why I picked up (I was a teenager, too young to have been watching SNL while she was on, had no "cancer connection"-- the book just kind of jumped into my hands one day), moved me profoundly.

KTC, I have Heartbreaking Work... on my to-read shelf right now. Finally bought it, and have about 3 books ahead of it. Whenever I get around to having a "maternity leave," I hope to get a lot of reading done! :)

eldragon
09-11-2006, 11:31 PM
Also after reading that comment...I prefer non-famous memoir.

Me, too.

In fact, I don't usually read famous people memoirs.

nicegrrl
09-11-2006, 11:46 PM
When I say I like famous people memoirs, I dont mean famous like celebs- I mean accomplished people. I would read a president's memoirs or a top scientist's memoirs. But I basically cant bring myself to get interested in a normal person's memoir. Ive tried reading a few, but they just dont work for me. I'm one of the few people who cant stand Dave Sedaris. I just dont want to read about the random crap that happens to him.

Peggy
09-12-2006, 12:10 AM
There are exceptions. Gilda Radner's memoir, which I still have no idea why I picked up (I was a teenager, too young to have been watching SNL while she was on, had no "cancer connection"-- the book just kind of jumped into my hands one day), moved me profoundly. I don't read too many memoirs, but, like you, I happened to pick up Gilda Radner's book and was unexpectedly affected by it.

Other memoirs I've found fascinating were by relatively "regular" people caught in extraordinary circumstances, such as Life and Death in Shanghai (by ? Cheng?) and The Periodic Table (by Primo Levi).

KTC
09-12-2006, 01:09 AM
You'll love it, Jenna. It is incredibly rich with humour, sadness and everyday life.

Stew21
09-12-2006, 01:24 AM
One of My favorite books is a memoir: On Whale Island. the author (name escapes me now) also wrote a memoir with his father about a sailing trip around Cape Horn called My Old Man and The Sea, fantastic books. I also loved Tuesdays With Morrie.

Becky Writes
09-13-2006, 03:48 AM
There are exceptions. Gilda Radner's memoir, which I still have no idea why I picked up (I was a teenager, too young to have been watching SNL while she was on, had no "cancer connection"-- the book just kind of jumped into my hands one day), moved me profoundly.



The same thing happened to me. I didn't even know who she was.

Southern_girl29
09-15-2006, 09:39 AM
Tuesdays with Morrie touched me deeply. I asked my husband to read it, too. He's dyslexic, so he often limits himself to short stories or magazine articles. But, he read it and loved it.

I also loved Angela's Ashes. It was a fantastic book. I don't like memoirs from famous people either. It kind of makes me mad they can get a book deal simply because of who they are, not because they can write.

expatbrat
09-19-2006, 07:21 PM
I love interesting stages of a person’s life:

* Into thin Air (The Everest expedition where everything went wrong)

* The forgotten minute (walking across the north and south poles)

* Dove (16 year old boy sails solo around the world)

* Mr China (arrh the Chinese… How 300 million USD is lost in China).

* Expat Brat (three countries, three men, three cultures, one goal.)

* Plenty of others that are not jumping into my head right now as I have been teaching kids swimming all day and my brain has turned to mush.


(Sorry for sticking Expat Brat in there. With the amount of effort I have been applying to that this last month… ha ha ha, as if?)

Nahotep
09-21-2006, 10:55 PM
Nicegrrl - just FYI: memoirs sell. It's hard to get them published, but they do very well and are a burgeoning market right now. Not everyone's story is worth reading, of course. But many seemingly ordinary folks have had some extraordinary experiences. Sentimental stuff like Tuesdays With Morrie stay on the bestseller lists for ages. Readers enjoy a tales of redemption or glimpses into real lives that are either more glamorous or more harrowing than their own.

I loved The Glass Castle, Running With Scissors (now a movie) and The Tender Bar. Big bonus -- all three are very well written.

pamelajo
12-09-2006, 05:35 AM
I prefer the average Joe memoir as well. I loved Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs.

Queen of the Oddballs is a quick fun read by Hillary Carlip

Also, Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress was really excellent.

Dawno
12-09-2006, 06:18 AM
I did not in the least enjoy reading Heartbreaking Work or Running with Scissors. I still suspect that both authors got them sold because they were pitched as memoirs after they got rejected multiple times as mediocre works of fiction. I continue to wait for them to get "Freyed"

Little Red Barn
12-09-2006, 06:44 AM
I just bought Girl Interrupted....don't know why..it looked to be a short read and it was reduced at half price books

Elodie-Caroline
12-09-2006, 03:08 PM
I wrote down my own memoirs on a website just after I got used to the internet, nearly 6 years ago; but I done it more as self-therapy, it's cheaper than a shrink right! lol. A lot of people from another website I belong to read it and I had a lot of good feedback too, one lady even wrote to me and told me... 'boy, you can f**king write!' and that if ever I decided to become a writer, that she wanted to give up her job as a record producer and become my agent; quite a compliment I think... I still didn't take up writing until around 3 years after that e-mail though.
Anyway, I don't think my own life story would interest people who don't actually know me as a person; but lots of my own life things are written in to my WIPs for someone else to live through, it makes me glad that I have lived the life I did, because it gives me plenty of opportunity to greatly embroider round my stories with my own truth and imagination.

Ellie

tenpenynail
12-17-2006, 07:57 PM
That's what my book is---I had a somewhat unusual life because my mother was a heroin addict long before it became a national past-time.

My book starts when the State of California took me away from my mother and my journey into many different homes began...

Like The Child Called It--on the face of it--it's a sad, horrid story. On the other hand, it's a tribute to 'we-humans' and how we can adapt and survive.

It will speak to other who lived this way...they'll say "Oh yeah, someone else did this, or felt this, or lived this."

And it will open the eyes of those who didn't live this way. For example if you see a child who is very, very, quiet, basically a non-expressionist, who is adapt at not answering questions, and comes to school even when they are sick [and wants to be there]--you may want to look further into their life.

If you see a tough talking teen with a Capital A "attitude," know she is scared, scared, scared--so scared she can't even let herself know she's scared because that's how she manages to get up every day.

So, I'm 'thinking' of self-publishing and marketing, but still sending out queries. I have gone to the book stores and continue to do so, and send out queries to those agents and publishers.

I'm thinking of physically tracking down McCourt or Pelzer--haha, just kidding. Maybe I could rent a blimp with a message, publish me, and send it to dock over their houses. Hmmmm...marketing ploy...

Anyway, I'm new-ish, I introduced myself at the Intro-thread. And now I'm here---hoping I'm in the right spot.

Little Red Barn
12-17-2006, 08:05 PM
That's what my book is---I had a somewhat unusual life because my mother was a heroin addict long before it became a national past-time.

My book starts when the State of California took me away from my mother and my journey into many different homes began...

Like The Child Called It--on the face of it--it's a sad, horrid story. On the other hand, it's a tribute to 'we-humans' and how we can adapt and survive.

It will speak to other who lived this way...they'll say "Oh yeah, someone else did this, or felt this, or lived this."

And it will open the eyes of those who didn't live this way. For example if you see a child who is very, very, quiet, basically a non-expressionist, who is adapt at not answering questions, and comes to school even when they are sick [and wants to be there]--you may want to look further into their life.

If you see a tough talking teen with a Capital A "attitude," know she is scared, scared, scared--so scared she can't even let herself know she's scared because that's how she manages to get up every day.

So, I'm 'thinking' of self-publishing and marketing, but still sending out queries. I have gone to the book stores and continue to do so, and send out queries to those agents and publishers.

I'm thinking of physically tracking down McCourt or Pelzer--haha, just kidding. Maybe I could rent a blimp with a message, publish me, and send it to dock over their houses. Hmmmm...marketing ploy...

Anyway, I'm new-ish, I introduced myself at the Intro-thread. And now I'm here---hoping I'm in the right spot.

:Hug2: I know its got to be good therapy for you as well regardless of the outcome.

tenpenynail
12-17-2006, 09:57 PM
Yes, it was probably good therapy---in that formally abused kids tend to tell the truth in 'layers'--never the story from A-to-Z.

Things, I personally gained from writing this book is:

* I can finally see myself as 'innocent.' I don't care what kind of kid I was---I was a kid and didn't deserve what happened to me.

* I now know why I have always slept with a pillow ON my head. It evidently originated in the south when I was put in the back of a garage to sleep. It was very roach invested. I put cake pans of water under the bed legs hoping they'd drown. But those dingdang things fly!!! So I'd tuck my sheet all around, put the pillow over my head, kind of wrapped around so only my nose stuck out to breath. I'd reach for the light turn it out, tuck my hands under quickly, and then I could 'feel' them light on the outside of my sheet.

* I now know why I always sleep on my stomach. Sexually abused kids often do, but I also did it so as not to get stabbed in the heart. I thought I'd have a better chance at surviving one particular household if they stabbed me though my back.

* I learned one reason I like 'color' so much.

* I learned that these folks didn't get up everyday and think, "Gee, how can I make this kids life miserable. They had their own demons; I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Great tool, forgiveness.

Yes, writing it taught me a lot. And those who have read it say it speaks to them also. So, it's more for them than me, now, that I keep slogging about at trying to get it published--on and on and on and on and, you know...

jennifer75
01-06-2007, 02:19 AM
In fact I love reading a memoir written by a first time author.



I'll send you a copy of mine once I'm finished!

jennifer75
01-06-2007, 02:21 AM
one lady even wrote to me and told me... 'boy, you can f**king write!' and that if ever I decided to become a writer, that she wanted to give up her job as a record producer and become my agent

Could I get her contact info? :P

Elodie-Caroline
01-06-2007, 02:45 AM
Nah, find your own contacts gal! LOL ;)

pink lily
01-06-2007, 06:04 AM
I'm also working on writing my personal memoirs, in various forms. It started when I was asked to deliver a speech about how I went from shut-in to public speaker, relying on a naturalistic worldview and support from atheists on the internet. I had to cancel the event, and I never finished writing the speech. But I'm still compelled to tell my tale of ups and downs, recovery from rape, and lifetime of political activism. I've taken to telling people that I was "saved by atheism," and I'd like to share my unusual viewpoint with others.

pink lily
01-13-2007, 05:23 AM
I know what is important to me, but wonder if other people want to hear stories of personal triumph?
Well, Debbie, maybe you have an angle that might appeal to a niche market, such as what I have with the atheist angle. Atheists like to buy books about atheism, so I might have luck finding an audience (and a publisher!) for my own tale. Maybe with your own story, you have a particular demographic you can appeal to, be it a religious group, or women of a certain age, or something like that. Is there something that sets your story apart from the rest? Try to focus on that.

Mothra
01-18-2007, 12:55 AM
I love reading memoirs written by completely average people. I love David Sedaris, although I would hardly call him average. (I actually don't read anything he writes, I listen to it on audio. He reads his own stuff and it is brilliant.) The Liar's Club and The Only Girl In the Car are two that I've read recently that I loved.

I read memoirs for the same reasons that I read novels-- to hear a good story.

jennifer75
01-18-2007, 01:33 AM
I love reading memoirs written by completely average people. I love David Sedaris, although I would hardly call him average. (I actually don't read anything he writes, I listen to it on audio. He reads his own stuff and it is brilliant.) The Liar's Club and The Only Girl In the Car are two that I've read recently that I loved.

I read memoirs for the same reasons that I read novels-- to hear a good story.

Can you recommend some of these "average people's" work?

Mothra
01-18-2007, 01:57 AM
The Liars' Club: A Memoir by Mary Karr
The Only Girl in the Car: A Memoir by Kathy Dobie
Atlas of the Human Heart: A Memoir by Ariel Gore
Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (with Kids) in America: My Story by Michelle Kennedy
Smashed : Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas (This one loses steam at the end, but is a good, quick read.)

In case you didn't' notice, I seek out memoirs by women. These are some that I've read in the past few months or so that stand out in my mind.

tenpenynail
01-18-2007, 02:48 AM
I'll look for some of these books to read as I enjoy 'average' memoirs also.

Then I'll sniff about and find out who their agent is--who published them and send out another ream of queries.

Thanks!

jennifer75
01-18-2007, 06:07 AM
I'll look for some of these books to read as I enjoy 'average' memoirs also.

Then I'll sniff about and find out who their agent is--who published them and send out another ream of queries.

Thanks!

I'm with you!

jennifer75
01-18-2007, 06:09 AM
The Liars' Club: A Memoir by Mary Karr
The Only Girl in the Car: A Memoir by Kathy Dobie
Atlas of the Human Heart: A Memoir by Ariel Gore
Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (with Kids) in America: My Story by Michelle Kennedy
Smashed : Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas (This one loses steam at the end, but is a good, quick read.)

In case you didn't' notice, I seek out memoirs by women. These are some that I've read in the past few months or so that stand out in my mind.

I've read or seen something written about "Smashed...". But can't remember what. Hmmm.

Thanks for the titles though. Title alone, I'd like to see what The Only Girl In The Car is about.

tenpenynail
01-18-2007, 06:51 AM
Ok, I see all this talk about publishing memoirs. Where does one find memoirs to read? I've seen like one memoir on the shelf in my whole life. I mean, I see autobiographies of famous and important people, but memoirs? Where? Is there some memoir section in bookstores I don't know about?

It depends upon the book seller--and where they display the book. For example, in my hometown, boondock bookstore Angela's Ashes was placed in "Psychology" " [can't answer why...] and other memoirs like "It" are put in "Self-Help, still others are mixed in with Biography. In Amazon if you put Memoir in the search box, you'll come up with many 'average-Jane' memoirs--like "Running With Scissors" and "Glass Castle."

Maybe someday there will be a section in most stores labeled "Memoirs."

AmyBA
01-18-2007, 09:01 AM
Can you recommend some of these "average people's" work?

I really loved Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress: Tales of Growing Up Groovy and Clueless by Susan Jane Gilman.

jennifer75
01-18-2007, 10:52 PM
Thanks, I'm purchasing it now on Amazon...:)

On a different note, has anybody heard of this one:

http://www.amazon.com/White-Lines-Writers-Stephen-Hyde/dp/B000KHXBYK/ref=br_lf_m__2_55_img/002-7859869-1950440?%5Fencoding=UTF8&s=books

jennifer75
01-18-2007, 11:20 PM
[I]The Only Girl in the Car: A Memoir by Kathy Dobie

Thanks for the recommendation! I just ordered it.

Cathy C
01-18-2007, 11:40 PM
There's a really fascinating one that I just finished called BEYOND DANCING: A veteran's struggle, a woman's triumph (http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Dancing-Veterans-Struggle-Triumph/dp/091015550X/sr=8-1/qid=1169149076/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-3167914-8531004?ie=UTF8&s=books), by Anita Bloom Ornoff. Really courageous lady to go through that in WWII. It's even gotten a quote by Hillary Clinton. It's a small press title in hardback, but definitely worth the read. :)