WHEN PEOPLE ASK why I love memoir, I frequently remind them that were it not for my favorite genre, we would not have the narratives of the disenfranchised. It’s a good thing to keep in mind when the relatives gather and someone disparages the genre and you, in turn, for writing it. Someone always will disparage it, you know, calling it self-indulgent, ego-centric, or my favorite put-down, navel-gazing, and when they do, it’s our turn to shine. To help you do so, here are three reasons to read memoir. Let me know if you can add to the list.
Recently reading about what sounds like a fabulous new book, I was reminded of the fact that without memoir we would have little of the slave narrative. The book, Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad, is by Eric Foner. The stories of the quest for freedom may be the single greatest examples we have in literature of what keeps the human pilot light lit. And those are the stories I love most.
The NPR piece about Foner and his book got me thinking about lives I know little about and where, and if, they are being represented online. And just like that, I was reading Abernathy Magazine, a brilliant as well as beautiful new (to me, at least) addition to the world of fine online reading. Named for the minister Ralph Abernathy, a leader of America’s Civil Rights Movement, the online magazine gave me a look at depression in the black community, taught me (rather, made me look up) the definition of “itis,” and provoked me on the topic of self-esteem to see it as a lifelong journey and not something that you can merely slap on and try. Thank you, Abernathy. You’ve got yourself a new reader.
Advertised as a publication for diverse voices, Solstice is another new place for me to go to travel far without leaving home. Now celebrating five years in publication, Solstice will mark the anniversary with a print anthology due out in April. And yes, to answer your first question, they take submissions for memoir.
Three things to read, each for its own reason. What’s on your screen that others need to know about?