What makes a memoir so alluring? After all, they are not generally stuffed full with action, suspense, romance or mystery, which provide the highs and lows or other literature. Neither do they proactively coach us in better ways to exist, or expand our minds with a plethora of interesting facts. So what is it that draws us in?
To be brutally honest, for some, part of the reason is nosiness. Now you may not think you are nosy-but who of us on occasion does not wonder whether that couple sitting across the way in the café are friends or lovers; are comfortable or awkward in each other’s presence, or are meeting for the first, or indeed the last time? We watch body language, guess emotions- hell, I sometimes have their whole life mapped out by the time they leave!-and then feel guilty that maybe I was staring!
A memoir provides a delicious self-indulgent journey where we are not left to wonder, where we can peer into emotions and motivations, where another individual bares all, and connects with us as a fellow member of the human family. This kinship is both illuminating and comforting. Our own emotions can be reflected back to us- an affinity of heartache, love, grief, despair, shame, longing, ambition, or joy-and through this connection we see ourselves as both individual and alike.
Through this connection we can then be inspired and motivated. Can take the gift of confidence with which to experiment; to be more adventurous in our own life-as we see that despite the struggles and the victories, the sometimes euphoric and often despairing episodes of life-the writer is still standing. Not only standing, but able to share their life experiences and insightful reflections through the pages of the book you hold in your hands. To give a little of themselves to others.
The best memoirs may in fact not be those of the modern celebrity, the media idols who churn out book upon book that has been quite possibly been written by a ghost writer, but those in which the author works hard at examining their experiences, and shows personality in unique writing style and a distinctive literary voice. Those where you become saturated with their thoughts and drawn into their world, living their experiences through their eyes, but with the understanding of a kindred spirit.