23 September 2015
Risks Worth Taking?
A Reflection on the Effects of Memoirs
The primary purpose of my research paper is to present a cross-section of the current conversations taking place around the way memoirs affect the writers who publish them. Based on my research, it appears that the effects tend to involve emotional and psychological consequences, as well as legal troubles in some instances. The discovery of this conversation helped me to refine my research topic into the question, “Do the benefits of publishing a memoir outweigh the risks of their effects for writers?” This research explores the positive and negative effects of memoirs on their writers to determine whether or ...view middle of the document...
Cook approaches the conversation from a critical lens and reminds writers that it is nearly impossible to avoid including others in their memoirs. She encourages them to educate themselves on their rights and the laws that govern them. Cook is quick to emphasize that writing a memoir can be risky business if you incriminate someone that you include in your book.
Another negative aspect I discovered is the way memories can can be emotionally abusive on your close family members when you share their secrets with the public. In "Loss, Revision, Translation: Re-Membering The Father's Fragmented Self In Alison Bechdel's Graphic Memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic," Hélène Tison comments on this happening with Alison Bechdel's “Graphic Memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.” Tison observes the ways Bechdel’s revision of history affected her and her family, such as her father allegedly committing suicide after the disclosure of his homosexuality. She frames the negative effects of the memoir on its author, describing how loved ones can be traumatized after the brutally honest documentation of their life. This negative aspect is a big risk to consider when writing a memoir.
I was surprised to learn about an unexpected negative aspect in "Stylised Configurations Of Trauma: Faking Identity In Holocaust Memoirs." Writer Alyson Miller reveals several fraudulent Holocaust memoirs with false identities. Miller believes that memoirs with fake characters can still reflect authentic concepts of the past and self. She warns of the ways fraudulent memoirs manipulate discourses of victimhood and authenticity. Through notions of history and identity, she argues that the scandals surrounding fake identities help us to understand our own anxieties about literature exposing the truth. Miller touches on the effects of traumatic memoirs in society and the complications of faking identities while sharing the truth. Miller’s article taught me that if you stray from the truth, you could be shamed and ridiculed as a writer.
Along those lines, Leigh Gilmore analyzes "A Million Little Pieces," by James Frey, "Eat, Pray, Love," by Elizabeth Gilbert, and "The Power of Now," by Eckhart Tolle in her essay, "American Neoconfessional: Memoir, Self-Help, And Redemption On Oprah's Couch." Gilmore points how the writers were criticized publicly. She explored major issues they experienced, like harsh public judgment and lack of privacy. Using a negative lens, Gilmore sees memoirists as narcissists that are destroying our culture. She really highlighted the negative effects connected with memoirs being read by the masses.
Another great source I found, “Memoir as Contemplative Practice for Peace and Justice,” explores the effects of self-reflection for writers of memoirs. It discusses several positive benefits that writers have discovered, such as their contemplation leading to a better understanding of how they are connected with the rest of society. It argues that memoirs offer...