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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Writer Sherman Alexie is back on the road: 'I averted a crisis'

Writer Sherman Alexie is back on the road: 'I averted a crisis' | memoir writing | Scoop.it
Haunted by his mother's memory, the author halted his book tour this summer. Now he's back on the road — still outspoken, still funny, but a little more careful.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
We sometimes convert our life stories into fiction, and sometimes we have the courage to write honest memoir. We would like all of our writing to have cathartic effects, but some of our stories continue to affect us long after we finish them. 
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Why the coming-of-age narrative is a conformist lie

Why the coming-of-age narrative is a conformist lie | memoir writing | Scoop.it
How can you go about finding ‘who you really are’ if the whole idea of the one true self is a big fabrication?
Gene Bodzin's insight:
Memoirs that look back on a life often suggest that a straight line progression took the author from birth to the moment the memoir was composed. This essay questions the idea that the personality of a given moment is the inevitable culmination (and final stage) of a lifelong quest.
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Review: “Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life”

Review: “Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life” | memoir writing | Scoop.it
If you have a story you’ve been wanting to tell but don’t know where to begin, Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story an
Gene Bodzin's insight:
Garrison Keillor said, "You get old and you realize there are no answers, just stories." Here's a book to help you tell yours.
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Why we forget names (but not faces)

Humans are quite good at recognizing familiar faces, but we often fail to remember even familiar names.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
A non-technical look at the fickleness and occasional unreliability of memory
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Most people with self-perceived memory problems experience severe stress

Most people with self-perceived memory problems experience severe stress | memoir writing | Scoop.it
Stress, fatigue, and feeling like your memory is failing you. These are the symptoms of a growing group of patients studied as part of a thesis at Sahlgrenska Academy. Result - They may need help, but they are rarely entering the initial stages of dementia.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
Think you`re losing it? You're not alone. And people feel horrible about it.
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Einstein and the woman rabbi

Einstein and the woman rabbi | memoir writing | Scoop.it
I’ve always admired people who can take the pain and suffering from their lives and turn it into a compelling memoir or novel. The most famous of thes
Gene Bodzin's insight:
One of the enduring patterns of memoir is the conversion of the lemons of life into lemonade. Here is a good example.
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Is it only forgetting?

Is it only forgetting? | memoir writing | Scoop.it
I’m 75. Let’s talk about forgetting. Not the everyday forgetting of people’s names but forgetting things that just happened.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
Focus is the key to remembering. The fact that we can't normally focus on everything often results in embarrassment and wasted energy,
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Etel Adnan on memory, the self, and the universe

Etel Adnan on memory, the self, and the universe | memoir writing | Scoop.it
"The universe is itself the glue that keeps it going, therefore it is memory in action and in essence, in becoming and in being. Because it remembers itself, it
Gene Bodzin's insight:
Is memory in us or is it us? A 91-year-old artiste explores this and other questions in this article.
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Memory and remembering

Memory and remembering | memoir writing | Scoop.it
As a people or as human beings, we ought to remember or utilise our memory always, for positive reasons. We must remember not to forget. But the tragedy of man is that he often forgets.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
There has been a lot of controversy recently about the proper way to remember historical conflicts. This article from Nigeria touches on how personal actions are influenced by national memories.
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Neurons involved in learning, memory preservation less stable, more flexible than once thought

Neurons involved in learning, memory preservation less stable, more flexible than once thought | memoir writing | Scoop.it
The human brain has a region of cells responsible for linking sensory cues to actions and behaviors and cataloging the link as a memory. Cells that form these links have been deemed highly stable and fixed.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
This article summarizes some recent research on what neuroscientists think they know about how memories are formed and preserved
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Let’s ditch the dangerous idea that life is a story 

Let’s ditch the dangerous idea that life is a story  | memoir writing | Scoop.it
Some find it comforting to think of life as a story. Others find that absurd. So are you a Narrative or a non-Narrative?
Gene Bodzin's insight:
We can discover who we are by writing "our story." But if we all have more than a single story, does that make us into multiple selves? This is a fascinating look at the idea that life is coextensive with the story we tell.
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Far-distant days: the past has a dizzying power to ground us 

Far-distant days: the past has a dizzying power to ground us  | memoir writing | Scoop.it
In his essay The Machine-Tooled Happyland (1965), Ray Bradbury lays out his vision for the theme park of the future. Along with standard-issue attractions such as carousels and rollercoasters, tomorrow’s theme park must also contain a
Gene Bodzin's insight:
You may think of yourself as the focus of the universe, but paying attention to the outer fringes of that universe will add some perspective to how you view the people who came before you.
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Living with dementia: Gerda Saunders tells her story before she forgets

Living with dementia: Gerda Saunders tells her story before she forgets | memoir writing | Scoop.it
As a well-respected academic with a sharp intellect, Gerda Saunders has led an exceptionally rich life of the mind. But at the age of 61, she was diagnosed with dementia. Her new memoir, "Memory's Last Breath: Field Notes on My Dementia," chronicles her experiences with the disease.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
For one reason or another, everybody's memory will one day be gone. The only way to preserve some of it is to write about it.
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Claire Tomalin: 'I've had a life with tragedies in it. But also extraordinary good luck'

Claire Tomalin: 'I've had a life with tragedies in it. But also extraordinary good luck' | memoir writing | Scoop.it
When she was 12, the writer Claire Tomalin wanted to be the first female Prime Minister, but Margaret Thatcher got there first.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
You can be overwhelmed by the surfeit of information when you start to write your own life story, but nobody has more of a right to pick the tone and general thrust of the story -- if you can stay with it.
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Confederate statues and American memory

Confederate statues and American memory | memoir writing | Scoop.it
To excise history is to risk being punished by it. Remove the statuary but do not consign it to oblivion.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
For a nation to remember its full history -- that is, to gain a full sense of everything it has been -- sometimes involves overcoming intentional amnesia.
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The girl who remembers everything

The girl who remembers everything | memoir writing | Scoop.it
Born with highly superior autobiographical memory, Rebecca Sharrock can remember every meal she's ever eaten, every book she's ever read, and every word ever said to her... almost back to birth.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
Do you ever wish you had a better memory? You may change your mind after you read this report. It also deals with the different kinds of memory we all have.
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Five questions with author Tama Janowitz

Five questions with author Tama Janowitz | memoir writing | Scoop.it
Gene Bodzin's insight:
An interview with a woman who, it is obvious, has had too many people ask how much of her memoir is true and how much is made up.
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Making memories

Making memories | memoir writing | Scoop.it
H.M., as he came to be known in the medical literature, could no longer remember anything he did. He could not remember what he had eaten for breakfast, lunch, or supper, nor could he find his way around the hospital. He failed to recognize hospital staff and physicians whom he had met only minutes earlier. Every time he met a scientist from MIT who was studying him regularly, she had to introduce herself again. He could not even recognize himself in recent photos, thinking that the face in the image was some “old guy.” Yet he was able to carry on a conversation for as long as his attention was not diverted.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
A detailed look at how memories are form in the brain, how they are shaped and transformed, and why no memory ever comes back in the same way.
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I Am, I Am, I Am - book review

I Am, I Am, I Am - book review | memoir writing | Scoop.it
IN THE opening chapter of this extraordinary memoir, Maggie O’Farrell is walking alone on a remote path when she realises she has been pursued by a man who is now “blocking my way, waiting for me”.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
Inspiration for people planning to write life stories
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Dementia systematically dismantles a person, one memory at a time

Dementia systematically dismantles a person, one memory at a time | memoir writing | Scoop.it
When Harriet McKnight’s grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s she told her family, ‘I’ll always be here for you, except sometimes when I’m not’
Gene Bodzin's insight:
When others lose memories, we are reminded of how fragile our existence really is
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A ‘fairy tale’ memoir

A  ‘fairy tale’ memoir | memoir writing | Scoop.it
This week’s book for adult readers is a memoir, but the author writes that she used her diary as a guide and “arranged certain facts to entertain.” So the
Gene Bodzin's insight:
There can be as many permutations in memoir as there are people, and nobody is obliged to follow any single formula. 
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How Charlottesville has exposed competing narratives in America's cultural memory

How Charlottesville has exposed competing narratives in America's cultural memory | memoir writing | Scoop.it
The alt-right is trying to subvert America's history of opposition to fascism.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
Lincoln said that a nation divided against itself cannot stand. For stability, it helps if the history of a country is also unified. Recent events have shown that this is not the case in the United States.  
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Forgetting names and faces?

Forgetting names and faces? | memoir writing | Scoop.it
How many times have you seen someone who looked familiar, but you couldn’t remember their
Gene Bodzin's insight:
A reminder not to take this all so seriously.
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The mystery of S., the man with an impossible memory

The mystery of S., the man with an impossible memory | memoir writing | Scoop.it
Reed Johnson writes about Solomon Shereshevsky, the mysterious subject of the neuropsychologist Alexander Luria’s “The Mind of a Mnemonist” who was long known as S.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
Fascinating study of a man who took mnemonics to an incredible extreme. (The adjectives are not fanciful.) The article also deals with the link between memory and imagination.
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How human memory works: Tips for UX designers

How human memory works: Tips for UX designers | memoir writing | Scoop.it
One of the greatest information processors we deal with in our everyday life cannot be seen or touched. It is a wonder we rarely think about it. It’s human memory.
Gene Bodzin's insight:
This article, ostensibly for computer programmers, is based on lots of information about the extent and limits of our memory.
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