What is it About Memoir?

I stumbled across this piece while doing some research for the upcoming publishing report. The question I sought to answer is this: Why does memoir even matter? What is it about this one small slice of the literary pie that keeps people coming back for more? This is a beautifully written piece in The New Yorker, aptly named “A Memoir Is Not a Status Update.”

It’s the perfect title, and it really does make you think. Why, in a world that is increasingly overrun with social media, selfies, and constant status updates, does anybody bother to read or write personal memoir anymore? It should be obsolete by now, right? In fact, the opposite is true. Despite a brief plateau in sales, memoir remains one of the most popular forms of nonfiction writing available today.

After reading this piece, the thing that struck me most is this line: “One of literary memoir’s greatest satisfactions—both for writer and reader—is the slow, deliberate making of a story, of making sense, out of randomness and pain.” It’s not about your check-in at the hospital or a snapshot of the beach where you watched your marriage crumble before your eyes. It’s about what we as humans do with these events; how they shape and define us; how we overcome and carry on. Essentially, it all comes down to the need to share our tiny part in the human experience. I recommend checking this piece out if you are curious about what sets memoir apart and makes it as timeless as the human spirit.



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