Writers and Editors (Pat McNees's blog)
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How reliable are our memories (how close to the truth)?

January 17, 2015

Tags: memory, memoirs, false memories, reconstructed memories, memory and identity

Updated 9-20-17, 4-3-15.
Whether you are working on a life story or having an argument with friends about an experience you shared years ago, consider what Oliver Sachs, Frank Bruni, Daniel Kahneman, Scott Fraser, Elizabeth Loftus, Maria Popova, Israel Rosenfield, Virginia Woolf, Suzanne Corkin, Joan Didion, Sally Mann, Sarah Manguso and Jane Austen (in the voice of Fanny Bryce) have to say about the nature, malleability, and unreliability of memory, as well as its role in constructing our identity, in (more…)

Memoirs of coping with chronic, rare, or invisible diseases, including mental health problems

July 15, 2011

Tags: memoirs, illness, mental illness, chronic diseases, disabilities, genetic disorders

Because I have a website providing resources about illness, recovery, dying, and grief, I am often asked to recommend books that will help people cope with a medical or mental health problem. I find that memoirs are often most helpful because they provide the narrative account of an illness that someone coping with a crisis is most likely to be able to concentrate on and get something out of (including understanding of their own emotional turmoil. These are some of the titles (more…)

Whose Truth? The ethics of memoir writing

April 14, 2011

Tags: memoirs, writing, ethics, Talking Writing

Darn: These essays all seem to be offline now. Authors: If you want them posted again, let me know. Maybe I can post them here. Talking Writing: Why aren't they up anymore? Your back issues don't seem to reach back to April 2011.

How much is too much truth? And whose truth is it to reveal? Those are two of many questions addressed in a fascinating issue about the ethics of memoir writing in a wonderful online magazine, Talking Writing. Can we trust ourselves to tell our stories truthfully? asks the editor. How far can we carry the fine art of (more…)

Coming-of-age memoirs make great gifts

December 17, 2010

Tags: memoirs, gift books, holiday gifts, recommended reading

For those thinking about writing their memoirs, or for book lovers generally, these coming-of-age novels make ideal gifts:
Allison, Dorothy. Bastard Out of Carolina (semi-fictionalized)
Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Baker, Russell. Growing Up (more…)

Food memoirs and biographies (a reading list)

November 1, 2009

Tags: food, memoirs

Writing about food and meals is a good way of getting at family dynamics and core memories, because so many of our interactions with family, good or bad, are associated with shared meals. For foodies, a good food memoir or biography offers delight on several levels and often sends us into the kitchen to recreate a scene! I've departed from listing only memoirs (more…)

Memoirs: Is honesty the best policy?

July 16, 2009

Tags: memoirs, biography, personal history

Graceanne K. Deters includes provocative copy in her website copy about the hidden story of a missionary daughter navigating a maze of religious fanaticism, and the dark side of her early life in (more…)

Questions we should all ask Mom

May 11, 2009

Tags: questions, interviews, memoirs

"When did you realize you were no longer a child?" is the last of ten Questions We Should All Ask Mom, from Lisa Belkin's NY Times blog. For more ideas on how to trigger (more…)