Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Glass Castle

Jeannette Walls' memoir is lightly written tale of a childhood lived below the poverty line, surviving on barely enough calories, with unwashed clothes in a makeshift shack. The parents are educated and pass on a love of learning and books, but intermittently unemployed and irresponsible, they do not provide the basic necessities for their children. From the Jacket,
    What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.
Similar memoirs include Frank McCourts Angela's Ashes, and Helen Forrester's series, beginning with Twopence to Cross the Mersey . All of Forrester's books make excellent reading.

A Definition of a Memoir

    A memoir is a piece of autobiographical writing which is often shorter than a comprehensive autobiography. The span of time covered in the memoir is often brief compared to the person's complete life span. The memoir often tries to capture certain highlights or meaningful events in one's past. Included in the memoir is a contemplation of the meaning of that event at the time of the writing. The memoir may be more emotional and descriptive, and concerned with capturing the feelings of the event, rather than documenting every fact and detail of a person's life. A memoir usually has a particular focus of attention, focusing on the selected events from a perspective that may not include other facts and details from the person's life. In other words, the memoir is highly focused and selective in the memories it includes.

No comments: