Thursday, February 4, 2010

Family Stories and memoirs and the 1st Slam in Cambridge

What does the popularity of memoirs tell us about ourselves? by Daniel Mendelsohn

Great article in the New Yorker about telling true life stories and memory.  Some wonderful quotes and issues to think about... “Outwardly,” Freud [wrote] “my life has passed calmly and uneventfully and can be covered by a few dates.” Inwardly—and who knew better?—things were a bit more complicated: 'A psychologically complete and honest confession of life, on the other hand, would require so much indiscretion (on my part as well as on that of others) about family, friends, and enemies, most of them still alive, that it is simply out of the question. What makes all autobiographies worthless is, after all, their mendacity.'

"Unseemly self-exposures, unpalatable betrayals, unavoidable mendacity, a soup├žon of meretriciousness: memoir, for much of its modern history, has been the black sheep of the literary family. Like a drunken guest at a wedding, it is constantly mortifying its soberer relatives (philosophy, history, literary fiction)—spilling family secrets, embarrassing old friends—motivated, it would seem, by an overpowering need to be the center of attention."  Read more:

But the phenomenon of the story slam is also related to this cultural trend and even though massmouth is  navigating a river feed by that stream I am sure we only partly understand the nature of our success. Here is a great article on the most recent  massmout story slam:  http://www.wickedlocal.com/cambridge/features/x1103041274/Where-prose-glows-Cambridge-s-first-story-slam-hits-Enormous-Room