Interesting review over at Books and Culture. Elissa Elliot reviews the recently released memoir of Sean Wilsey – an editor at large for McSweeney’s quarterly. Her conclusion is that “Wilsey’s book has all the elements of a good memoir.” She goes on to define what she means:
A good memoir is filled with wit, humor, and wisdom. A good memoir is honest-searingly so-and redemptive. A good memoir is not an easy weekend read; it causes considerable discomfort-that you, too, have done all these things, or might have, in similar circumstances; that you, too, have hurt people this badly. A good memoir says, “Here’s the scumbag I was, but by the grace of God, look what happened!” The proof lies in the final, conciliatory pages, which say, I am what I am because of these people, my family. Thank you.
Two questions for the audience:
1) Do you even read memoirs? Or would just as soon not see another memoir/autobiography published?
2) Is Elliot’s description of a good memoir accurate? Is that what you look for?