The votes are in.
Two writers answered my call about whether or not a book I’m writing about money in my family is a memoir. My dilemma was: Does it qualify as a memoir, since I’m not really the main character in the story?
Both these writers said “yes,” it’s a memoir.
The Narrator is Subjective
My online chum, The Warrior Mom, Darah Zeledon wrote, “You are the narrator and it is (directly or indirectly) about your life. It is memoir b/c although you are not the main character, it is a ‘subjective narrative.’ “A family history,” she continued, “is objective narrative, perhaps written by outsider.”
(If you’re bored with these technicalities about genre, read about how Darah 1) mother of five 2) finds time to write.)
The other person who gave an expert opinion was Lisa Dale Norton, whose book on memoir writing, Shimmering Images: A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir, I’ve begun using as a text in the classes I teach.
Whose “Prism of Perspective?”
Lisa pointed out that though the lines separating genres can be vague these days, My Mother’s Money is a memoir. Her actual words, which might be instructive to others grappling with this question were, “Contemporary memoir does blur the lines, and yet if the book about the family’s bequeathing methods is told through your prism of perception, then yes, I’d call it a memoir.”
I’m buying the notion, but My Mother’s Money still feels almost like report writing. Although . . . it does rankle when I write it because, like it or not, I am part in the story.
Cecelia Dowdy says
Interesting discussion. I guess it could be considered a memoir? It’s kind of hard to say…
Lynette Benton says
Thanks for commenting, Cecelia. I’ve visited your site and wondered, are you writing a memoir?