The Writerly Habit

This blog is about my struggles to get into the habit of writing regularly.

Why does Taylor Antrim hate Memoir?

In an article for The Daily Beast, Taylor Antrim trashes memoir. He states "Too often, memoir seems to me an excuse to be fragmentary, incomplete, narratively non-rigorous." This seems like an unfair attack to me. He argues that some memoirs, particularly Happy and The Ticking is the Bomb, would be better off written as novels.

Pardon me, but I think the reason a memoir should be written as a memoir is that it is a true account. Mind you, creative non-fiction provides some wiggle room. Yes, you may not remember the exact conversation you had with your psychotherapist in 1963 but if you get the gist of it, who gives a crap? We read memoir because we are interested in other people's lives. We want to identify instead of merely escaping (although good authors can excel in both whether it be CNF or fiction). If memoir was a failed medium that cowers in front of fiction, why is it so damn popular? I think if memoir was just an excuse for lazy writing, it would've been done away with long ago.

Here's a short reply from The Rumpus that is also worth a read. What do you think though, is Antrim right or is this a publicity stunt? Maybe this is a jab back at an industry that criticised him harshly. The reviews of his book The Headmaster Ritual on are positive but also point out some flaws. The New Yorker states that "he does not entirely succeed in illuminating the resonance of all this for his characters’ interior lives." Wait, I'm confused, in his diatribe on memoir he accused memoirists of not developing characters enough. Reed Business Information states "the climax is marred by a chain of events that defies reason." Hmm...

Happy: A MemoirThe Ticking Is the Bomb: A MemoirThe Headmaster Ritual