memoir writing
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memoir writing
a look at how we remember and write about the past
Curated by Gene Bodzin
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The family memory you think you have

The family memory you think you have | memoir writing | Scoop.it
Why it’s totally normal for family members to recall major life events differently—and why talking over those difference matters.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
You've heard the stories all your life, but they don't all agree with what you remember. Who are you going to believe, the family mythology or your own memory?
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Goodies and baddies, truth and light, darkness and light ... these are not the stuff of reliable memoirs

Goodies and baddies, truth and light, darkness and light ... these are not the stuff of reliable memoirs | memoir writing | Scoop.it

DAME Hilary Mantel recorded the first of her Reith Lectures before a live audience in Manchester on the night of the city’s bombing on May 22.…
Gene Bodzin's insight:
Easy enough to acknowledge that memories change with time. But how and why take some explaining.
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Zinzi Clemmons has written the debut novel of the year

Zinzi Clemmons has written the debut novel of the year | memoir writing | Scoop.it
Clemmons’ potent and extraordinary debut, What We Lose (Viking), depicts a young woman caught between cultures and identities in a loosely autobiographical exorcism of grief.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
Perspective: It helps for a writer to keep some emotional distance from the material. Here's a loosely autobiographical novel by a writer whose experience has always made her an outsider.
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So I exaggerate a little – am I wrong to jazz up my stories?

So I exaggerate a little – am I wrong to jazz up my stories? | memoir writing | Scoop.it
Before 8 November 2016, I thought it was okay to stretch the truth in storytelling, especially if you were trying to be funny. Now, I’m not sure.
TrueStory was my Match.com handle. I don’t remember Victoria’s handle; what I remember is he
Gene Bodzin's insight:
Lots of food for thought here for anybody who has stories to tell. It's the old conflict between strict truth and the requirements of a good story.
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Alcohol, memory and reasonable doubt

Alcohol, memory and reasonable doubt | memoir writing | Scoop.it
While our memories are quite accurate most of the time, cognitive science has demonstrated that memory errors are not uncommon.  When mistakes occur, they can be large, undetectable, subjectively compelling and reported with as much conviction as genuine memories.  
Gene Bodzin's insight:
A study of planted memory and the effects of alcohol on memory, from a legal perspective. In my system the article is printed twice, perhaps in case I was snoozing through the first iteration.
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Forgetting can make you smarter

Forgetting can make you smarter | memoir writing | Scoop.it
For most people having a good memory means being able to remember more information clearly for long periods of time. For neuroscientists too, the inability to remember was long believed to represent a failure of the brain'
Gene Bodzin's insight:
My father was fond of saying that there's no such thing as useless knowledge. It all depends on what you might need to know later. The same is true of memories. They are useless only if you don't need them later.
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Why the 'peculiar' stands out in our memory

Why the 'peculiar' stands out in our memory | memoir writing | Scoop.it
Memories that stick with us for a lifetime are those that fit in with a lot of other things we remember -- but have a slightly weird twist. It's this notion of 'peculiarity' that can help us understand what makes lasting memories.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
One of the tricks of people with notable memories is to bring some kind of unusual experience into our life every day. This essay elaborates on that advice.
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Finding the perfect madeleine: How to unlock a reader’s memories

Finding the perfect madeleine: How to unlock a reader’s memories | memoir writing | Scoop.it
I write the Ellie Stone mystery series, which runs through the early years of the 1960s, the decade that began with the election of JFK and ended with a man on
Gene Bodzin's insight:
In an essay that could be useful for every memoir writer, a writer of historical fiction discusses his method for conveying the tastes and sounds of the past
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Richard Ford's moving memoir about his parents

Richard Ford's moving memoir about his parents | memoir writing | Scoop.it
In a moving memoir about his parents, Richard Ford reveals death surrendered back almost as much as it took away.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
Memoirs can be fascinating even if they describe the most common lives, even if the people in them left no records, no legacy, no letters or diaries.
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Remembering the Murder You Didn’t Commit

Remembering the Murder You Didn’t Commit | memoir writing | Scoop.it
DNA evidence exonerated six convicted killers. So why do some of them recall the crime so clearly?
Gene Bodzin's insight:
We all tell ourselves stories about who we are and what made us the people we have become. A psychologist with an agenda can use those stories to help us or to harm us.
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Process of forgetting simply facilitated

Process of forgetting simply facilitated | memoir writing | Scoop.it
Thanks to Carol Capper and Peter McKenna for their cogent letters of June 12 dealing with bad things of history.  
Gene Bodzin's insight:
A plea to retain the bad with the good in cultural history, to retain the names of people whose actions would not be accepted today.
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Perils of memory

Perils of memory | memoir writing | Scoop.it
I READ Ron Howse’s letter (“It’s worth recalling” June 2) with great interest probably because we are contemporaries.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
A snippet about the mutability and selectiveness of memory
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How to tell the difference between normal aging & serious memory loss

How to tell the difference between normal aging & serious memory loss | memoir writing | Scoop.it
Remembering that it's completely normal to forget.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
We usually are more successful at remembering what happened long ago if we did something to keep the memory alive when the event happened. But if we did not, all is not lost. There are lots of ways of bringing back the past.
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Taking photos of experiences boosts visual memory, impairs auditory memory

Taking photos of experiences boosts visual memory, impairs auditory memory | memoir writing | Scoop.it
A quick glance at any social media platform will tell you that people love taking photos of their experiences - whether they're lying on the beach, touring a museum, or just waiting in line at the grocery store. New researc
Gene Bodzin's insight:
There are several kinds of memory, and sometimes improving one kind becomes a trade-off, minimizing another
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Sherman Alexie’s lovely book is the latest entry in a growing genre: the mom memoir

Sherman Alexie’s lovely book is the latest entry in a growing genre: the mom memoir | memoir writing | Scoop.it
Sherman Alexie’s terrific book is the latest entry in a new genre: memoirs of moms.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
We all start out with mothers. Some of us recover enough to become writers. 
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New discovery could allow us to edit memories to make them less traumatic

New discovery could allow us to edit memories to make them less traumatic | memoir writing | Scoop.it
So this is how triggering really works.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
If  you get mugged while trying to read this article, you may associate the two factors enough that the trauma will keep you from reading altogether in the future -- but there's a pill that can help.
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How to be better at forgetting

How to be better at forgetting | memoir writing | Scoop.it
Why is it also hard to forget certain things?
Gene Bodzin's insight:
For individuals, as for groups, remembering sometimes leads to negative consequences. How do we know when to let go of a memory? and how do we do it?
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A question of memory

A question of memory | memoir writing | Scoop.it
Brain power guru Eran Katz talks about his new book and the importance of training young minds to remember
Gene Bodzin's insight:
Some memory encouragement for people of all ages
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When real names matter and when they don’t

The website maintained by Michael Steinberg.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
One of the most important posts on this site, full of ethical issues. It should be instructive for anybody writing about real people who might object to be described in print.
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James Salter’s last interview

James Salter’s last interview | memoir writing | Scoop.it
I conducted the following interview with James Salter in the Fall of 2014. It was published in the University of Virginia’s literary journal Meridian several
Gene Bodzin's insight:
Writers of life stories will be particularly interested in the passages that follow the words "procrastination" and "memory."
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Field notes on dementia became an act of self-preservation

Field notes on dementia became an act of self-preservation | memoir writing | Scoop.it
In her memoir, “Memory’s Last Breath,” Gerda Saunders reports on her life’s most extraordinary journey: her clear-eyed steps into dementia. The book (with its astonishing subtitle: “Field Notes on My Dementia”) is a literary achievemen
Gene Bodzin's insight:
Memoir is often a hedge against the loss of self. This author came to know that more painfully and obviously than most.
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In grief, Joan Didion’s move from fiction to memoir

In grief, Joan Didion’s move from fiction to memoir | memoir writing | Scoop.it
Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that Joan Didion made a mistake. Not in publishing South and West: From a Notebook—although more on that in a little bit—but in
Gene Bodzin's insight:
A detailed examination of the issues that Joan Didion faced as she considered the writing of her two late-in-life memoirs.
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A matter of subjective memory

A matter of subjective memory | memoir writing | Scoop.it
Recently, I was talking with a couple of my grown kids about our French poodle, Philo, who died a year ago last fall. I described for them in careful detail
Gene Bodzin's insight:
Tongue-in-cheek alert: An article describing how one man copes with the unreliability of memory.
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Eyewitness memory is a lot more reliable than you think

Eyewitness memory is a lot more reliable than you think | memoir writing | Scoop.it
What law enforcement, and the public, needs to know
Gene Bodzin's insight:
This presents a case for accepting eyewitness testimony, but only if nobody tinkers with the memories in questions.
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Why nostalgia is good for your mental health

Why nostalgia is good for your mental health | memoir writing | Scoop.it
Research has shown that a nostalgic yearning for the past is especially likely to occur during periods of transition.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
Looking at the past can be an escape from the realities of the present, but it can also arm us to confront the future.
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