Monday, July 16, 2007

Reading A Memoir

I'm reading Madhur Jaffrey's memoir. My uncle took a memoir writing class a few years ago and he explained to me that the difference between a memoir and a biography is that a biography tells the whole story of the subject and a memoir is built around one or two themes. Climbing the Mango Trees is about family and food - not all that surprising since it's written by a cookbook author.

What I've been thinking is that perhaps Jaffrey might have thought her childhood was pretty ordinary (but I'm only about 100 pages in) but what makes it interesting to me is that she grew up in India. The book is filled with things like mango trees and tamarind chutney, and she grew up in a multiple-family household led by her grandfather, surrounded by many many cousins.

I think my childhood was pretty ordinary, but it was my childhood and it was great. I say that knowing that our family experienced a great loss at the beginning of my and No's childhood, but that's a question mark that can't be guessed at. Could I pick out a theme around which a memoir could be built?

One of the things I'm doing with this blog is posting super-short stories from my life, mostly my young life. "Write what you know." It's practice in writing and part of my daily practice of writing.

That's all I have to say about that. This is my 200th post, just past the halfway point in the calendar year.

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