I follow Patti M. Hall on Instagram (@patti_m_hall). She’s published a memoir called Loving Large and has a podcast called Reframe Your Life. She’s a major memoir-genre fan, and one day I read one of her posts about a memoir called The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich.
I was drawn to the title, The Fact of a Body, because it’s so odd. It’s a sentence fragment, so it irked me. But because it’s a fragment, it requires more context, just like the presence of a body does.
Patti’s post says:
“One of the reasons I love the memoir genre is that memoirs are an unself-conscious dive down the proverbial rabbit hole into incredible realizations.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
They reflect both experience and years of self-reflection about what has contributed most to who we are in the time of writing. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I say unself-conscious because, by the time a writer has gotten to the publication stage of a memoir, they have grown quite comfortable with the contents. They can’t afford to feel squeamish about the content anymore.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Also, time has passed.”
What an incredible way to sum up the experience of writing a memoir. I’d never thought of it this way before.
Seeing this post was timely because I’m writing a book that is part memoir and part fiction. It’s a tricky hybrid, but it’s the only way that makes sense to me to write it, so I’m trusting my gut on this. Because of the memoir component, I’m realizing how true Patti’s post is as I’m writing. I am an expert on my subject matter, and I am at the point where I can sit back and look at the content differently and wonder about it.
Wondering really opens up the mind to new ideas. This is the unself-conscious rabbit-holing Patti is talking about. We humans really good at accepting information, but not wondering about it. We have to be or we’d never get anything done. It takes time to get to the point of being able to stand back and say, “Wait a minute….”
Naturally, I check out books that come with such thought-provoking posts and recommendations.
I won’t spoil this book for you. I’m glad I ingested it without prior knowledge of its contents. I just opened to chapter one and read, and as I read, the book unfolded. The story became one I wasn’t expecting, and it made me think about personal history, family history, and the history in/of the body in a new way.
This book is disturbing, but not in a graphic way. You’ll see more carnage flipping through TV channels than what’s in here. What’s disturbing is the narrator’s naked confronting of humanity.
I’m on Instagram too BTW (@annawordsgood). Say hi.
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