Posts Tagged ‘memoir’


Can You Imagine the Rumble?

February 25, 2016

In truth I was not aware of any particular rivalry ‘twixt authors of novels and memoirs, but neither is that definitive … or indicative of pretty much anything. Nonetheless, here we go:

Salon.comBy the end of this treatise on “appropriate choice of vocabulary” and the human impulse to “relativise” emotions, the reader still has no clear sense of how [Catherine] Millet feels about her mother’s suicide or what, if anything, this suicide has to do with her pained relationship with her husband. We learn more in one sentence of [Edouard] Levé’s about both the precise nature of the narrator’s feelings for his dead friend and the complications of intimacy in general.

And while I will not take a side―nor even try to figure out what the sides are, or if they actually exist at all―in Hannah Tennant-Moore’s introspection, I would at least go so far as to note she would seem to have a point with that paragraph.

Yeah, I know. Everybody’s a critic. Doesn’t mean a one of us has an answer. The answer. I mean, you know. An answer? Do I need an umbrella today? “Nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nineteen! Nineteen!” Yeah, you know? It’s an answer.



Tennant-Moore, Hannah. “Too real for reality TV — or even memoir: The new novels that dare use fiction to reveal secret truths”. Salon. 14 February 2016.


Fiction, Fact, and Faked Memoirs

July 3, 2009

Periodic SCWC staffer and prolific features contributor to the San Diego Reader, Thomas Larson (The Memoir and the Memoirist: Reader and Writing Personal Narrative), addresses the state of faked memoirs (post-James Frey) and its impact on writers, readers and the publishing world as a whole in this essay for the New English Review:

Fiction, Fact, and Faked Memoirs
by Thomas Larson

Never let the truth get in the way of a good story is the claim every storyteller is admonished to believe. What our ten-thousand-year-old tale-telling tradition (most of it oral) instructs us to do is to be good dramatists and let the story have its sway. This law of the tale, and our drama-loving DNA, is why the Bible has survived so long: its well-told stories were the means by which its morally sound messages were delivered and, tellers and scribes hoped, stuck. When disputes about a story’s authenticity arose, the Bible authors were less keen to preserve history or embrace veracity than to make the drama central, via legend, fantasy, parable, and the fictionalized life, based on Egyptian mythology, reified as well as purified, of Jesus Christ. The Bible is a work of narrative literature and a work of fiction. But, the problem is, its fiction has almost always been thought of as fact.

Against the tradition of fictionalizing fact is a counter-tradition: those who disbelieve the Bible’s authenticity, those who question the moral claims of mythic and fictional literature, those who find truth only in existential doubt. Dethroning literature of its moral supremacy—that Bible stories and other mythic dramas, whether in epic poem or realistic novel, illustrate what’s true—is giving way to a more adaptive literature, one where claims of mythic and dramatic truth are questioned, attacked, dismantled. Its form today is the memoir, which in storming the Babel of literature has knocked the good-story notion on its head. Trumpets raised, the memoir heralds that the truth should get in the way of a good story. That truth can only be deceived by drama and, thus, become its victim. We need look no further for evidence that the memoir is dethroning fiction’s reign than to look at the surprising celebrity accrued by the faked memoir.

>>Read entire article



KYSL SD23: Phyllis Gebauer, sexy author

January 28, 2009

Know Your Session Leaders ….

Once merely a typist, and now a sexy author, Phyllis Gebauer brings her unique charm and talent to San Diego with … count ’em … two workshops: “Putting Story Down on Paper: Dramatic Scenes and Effective Transitions” and “Putting You Into Your Memoir“.

(Note to self: Your transitions are train wrecks; attend this workshop.)

Her writing credentials are outstanding, including books with titles like Hot Widow and Pagan Blessing, short stories, articles, and even film strips. Drawing praise from such luminaries as Ray Bradbury and Thomas Pynchon, Ms. Gebauer’s talent translates well for SCWC workshops; an instructor for UCLA Extension, she was named Outstanding Teacher in Creative Writing in 1992.

The hard thing, of course, is to say, over and over, “Don’t miss it!” Naturally, since we can’t all be in two (or more) places at once, we must necessarily miss something. Still, though, the advice holds. Phyllis Gebauer is simply not to be missed.



San Diego 23 major update

October 20, 2008

On the author front, ten of whom have new books out or coming out by conference time: Richard Craig Anderson (Rivers of Belief), Tom Basinski (The Cross-Country Rapist), Laurel Corona (The Four Seasons: A Novel of Vivaldi’s Venice), Mark Clements, Edwin Decker, Phyllis Gebauer (Hot Widow), Troy Johnson (Family Outing: What Happened When I Found Out My Mother Was Gay), Gordon Kirkland, Bob Mayer (Agnes and the Hitman, co-written with Jennifer Crusie), Matthew J. Pallamary, Frederick Ramsay (Stranger Room), Midge Raymond (Forgetting English), Judy Reeves, Caitlin Rother (Twisted Triangle and Body Parts), Michele Scott (Tacked to Death and Zamora’s Ultimate Challenge) and Michael Thompkins are aboard.

Agents and editors wise, so far we’ve got Michelle Brower, Claire Gerus, Kathleen Gilligan, Jean Jenkins, Jeffrey Moores, Lynn Price, Jennifer Redmond, Adrienne Rosado, Mike Sirota, Sally van Haitsma, Natanya Wheeler and Laura Taylor.

Still a few more folk to add, as well as specific workshops and guest speakers to be announced, but rest assured our next Presidents’ Day Weekend event will again prove itself the spirited, inclusive, informative & encouraging writers’ conference unlike any other.

Remember there’s a $75 discount off Full Conference registration for those who do so by Nov. 1. Get all the details at



A Broad wins awards

June 18, 2008

Our good friend and longtime conferee Dodi Cross reports that her book, A Broad Abroad in Thailand: An Expat’s Misadventures in the Land of Smiles was awarded the Silver Medal in the Humor Category at the recent BookExpoAmerica, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The win was extended by ForeWord Magazine‘s Book of the Year Awards.

Dodi also nabbed First Place in the National Indie Excellence Book Awards, 2008, for Best Autobiography and placed as a Finalist in the Humor Category for A Broad Abroad in Thailand.

Way to go, Dodie! And to think that it all began with her SCWC award win at our very first Palm Springs conference.



A million little insights

April 30, 2008

Appearing in the new Vanity Fair is a terrific piece by Evgenia Peretzon on James Frey, yes, the ridiculously demonized author of A Million Little Pieces.  Given that their very association with an author is to ultimately produce a book that makes as much money as possible, by appealing to the maximum audience attainable, the complicity nearly every agent, editor and publisher shares in crafting the end result should never be underestimated.  Particularly with regards to the “memoir” genre so popular today.

From the article, perhaps Norman Mailer put it best in a conversation with Frey:

They sat down on the couch and talked about memoirs, a genre, Mailer said, that was by definition corrupt: “That’s why a writer writes his memoir, to tell a lie and create an ideal self. Everything I’ve ever written is memoir, you know, is an inflated vision of the ideal Platonic self.”

Read the full article here.