I wanted to follow-up on my theme of authors who do (or don’t) write memoirs. I was recently introduced to three authors who DID write a memoir/autobiography. It makes sense that a published author would write a memoir. Presumably, they already know how to write. But, do we get more insight into their writing by reading about their real lives? That level of insight may have something to do with when, relative to their writing career, the published authors wrote their own story.
Here’s my 3-book sample:
“The Tender Bar: A Memoir” by J.R. Moehringer. This book showed up in the September “Book buyers’ picks” in “The Costco Connection.” It turns out that this book was published in 2005, so it’s not new. The author is an American journalist who started his career at the NY Times. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 2000. He is also the same journalist who provided the inspiration for the 2007 movie “Resurrecting the Champ” and collaborated with Andre Agassi on Agassi’s autobiography called “Open,” published in 2009. It appears that Moehringer’s memoir may have been his first book, although he certainly had produced numerous writing pieces for his journalism career. Moehringer was born in 1964 and is still alive. I’m sure that more books will follow.
“When We Were the Kennedys: A Memoir from Mexico, Maine” by Monica Wood. A friend sent me a review of this book as it was just published in July, 2012 and features a New England author. I bought the book immediately. I only had to read the first couple of paragraphs to know that Monica Wood had tremendous writing talent. When I researched her as an author, I found that she had previously written and published several novels. Reviews of her memoir title have been featured in “The New Yorker,” the “Boston Globe,” and “Oprah Magazine.” Monica Wood is not a writing newbie. She is alive and well and will probably write many more books.
“Waiting for the Morning Train: An American Boyhood” by Bruce Catton. Some of you may recognize the famous author’s name as he was best known for his writings on the Civil War. My Dad found a copy of the book titled “Bruce Catton’s America: Selections from his Greatest Works,” at a local library book sale a few weeks ago. I was intrigued that the book included excerpts from Catton’s memoir as well as his Civil War writing. Bruce Catton was born in 1899 in Michigan and greatly moved by the Civil War veterans who lived in the area. Their tales inspired Catton’s lifelong pursuit of Civil War writing. Catton won the Pulitzer Prize in 1954 for “A Stillness at Appomattox.” He wrote more than 15 books before he wrote his memoir and 3 books after his memoir. He died in 1978.
The quick study of these three books did nothing to help me form a hypothesis as to when published authors (or journalists) wrote their memoirs relative to their other writing. One thing was clear, however, all of the above memoirs were written by accomplished writers. Initially, I was disappointed that the memoirs did not reveal the intimate details regarding the author’s thoughts behind their other works that I had expected. In the end, I was more appreciative that they had used their writing talent to share their lives with us instead.