Today is the day of the memoir

Jeanette Winterson wrote in her recent book Why be happy when you could be normal? that 1985 was ‘not the day of the memoir’, and yet ostensibly today is the day because everybody is doing it – John Prescott, Salman Rushdie, Jack Straw. What is going on?

Even the statement – ‘Today is the day of the memoir’ – seems like a contradiction in terms because how can today’s ‘now’ be yesterday’s ‘now’ as well.

The memoir is a conceptually solid representation or version of the past, it is a ‘product’. It is also part of current consumer culture, whereby people make purchases because they feel safe and because what they are buying is somehow ‘knowable’. Note that the tagline of a major highstreet bookseller is – ‘The Knowledge Retailer’ – as if knowledge could ever be that stable…

Find out more by following the link to my online article about contemporary memoir:

About ejpollard

I was awarded my PhD from Manchester Metropolitan University, UK in December 2013. My thesis explored the notions of origin and ellipsis in the writing of contemporary British novelist Hilary Mantel. I want this blog to express the ideas I have in and around my academic writing. View all posts by ejpollard

One response to “Today is the day of the memoir

  • ejpollard

    It may seem strange to reply to my own post, however, I do have a response to it… I am still fascinated by the proliferation of memoirs, and also, the journalistic desire to ‘trash’ them. Hatchet Job of the Year has just gone to Camilla Long’s lacerating review of Cusk’s Aftermath – the memoir of her divorce, ‘sequel’ to the memoir of her motherhood. I am writing about Mantel’s autobiographies at the moment and I misspelt the word autobiography so that it read instead, ‘autho-biography’. This ‘mistake’ seemed itself more apt with ‘something else’ surfacing through the writing of this error. Has anyone come across this term before? Am I dredging it up from unconscious depths…?

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