I started reading my first memoir recently. I’ve never seen the point in memoirs. They seem to be auto-biographies of people that haven’t done anything significant in life. If they had done something significant then someone else probably would have written a book about it. Those are called biographies.
Memoirs are about the little things in life that no one really notices. They drip with ennui. The dominant theme: life is disappointing and over far too soon. I can relate. Writers as a bunch are equipped with stunning imaginations and this creativity is put to no greater purpose than imagining the lives we want to lead. (Mine involved a mid-century house overlooking Los Angeles.) Reality never lives up.
Another reason that memoirs are popular is that good writers sometimes have nothing significant to say. Or they’ve said it all in their earlier, break-out novel. Now they are left with the mundane parts of daily life, but like athletes still in their prime, their wordsmithing skills demand to be put into practice, even if just to describe a trip to the store for toothpaste.
Witty and clever seems to be the paramount requisites for a memoir. Because nothing much happens and no real destination is reached, the trip there has to be pleasant, like a Sunday drive through the countryside. The reader can stare out the window and watch the world go by. Maybe they see a quaint barn, or a field of cows. Perhaps there is a fruit stand to stop at and buy a flat of blackberries. The drive loops back home and you wind up right where you began, with the same issues and concerns, but the diversion has been…diverting.
Memoirs are the 60’s pop tunes of the literary world. I’ll write one someday, but only when I’m certain nothing significant will ever happen to me.