On memoir, Fran Lebowitz says that if your life were all that interesting, someone else would write a book about it.
In basic agreement, Lorrie Moore replies to Lebowitz:
Despite having some sympathy with this idea, or with caustic wit, or with avoiding writing, one can nonetheless assume that there are good reasons to embark on a memoir: the world and the self collide in a particular way that only you, or mostly you, can narrate; you would like a preemptive grab at controlling the discourse.
And, among several gleaming shreds, this analogy of the memoir to:
Are you coming into the house of narrative through the back door because the back door is where the money is?
People are telling us their personal stories and speaking to us of their private lives and even if the structure is rickety and the prose has, to borrow Dick Cavett’s phrase, “all the sparkle of a second mortgage,” we are going to hang in there because it is true.
You can already see Moore’s reluctant (real at all–I dunno) respect (attack?) of/for the form. A funny thing NYRB chose her to review memoirs, but possibly they knew exactly what they were doing. Dinty Moore responds to Moore: