The memoir is a non-fictional story. Its author writes it in the first-person perspective and designs it with the literary means of the novel. Scenes and reflective passages to the experienced are absolutely part of it. In contrast to the autobiography, which depicts a whole life, it focuses on a special section from the life of the author or a recurring theme. And unlike memoirs, this genre is not reserved for celebrities. The contents are: extraordinary life stories of hitherto unknown people and their personal development in dealing with special life situations.
The memoir has numerous subgenres that change depending on the audience’s interest and prevailing trends: family, friendship, food, pets, illness, grief, self-discovery, spirituality, faith, travel, other cultures, integration, adventure, escape, liberation from sects and extremist milieus … Topics often mix. Hape Kerkelings Ich bin dann mal weg is about his journey on the Way of St. James, about health, faith and self-discovery. Nizaqete Bislimi, who has lived in asylum accommodation for 14 years, writes in Through the Wall – From Asylum Seeker to Lawyer about escape, self-discovery and integration.
When it comes to the question of what my books are about, it is often difficult for me to find a suitable answer. As a rule, there is neither the time nor the interest to go into depth with my description. It is also not possible to simply assign it to its genre, since the term memoir is not yet widely used in Germany. Therefore, I am left with only two options. Either I say that I am writing a book about my life, but this usually only makes for a puzzled face. Or I omit the part that these are true events and only roughly explain what the protagonist is struggling with.
With the second variant, I always come across only positive feedback. My counterpart finds the topics interesting and usually agrees with my information.
In the first variant, on the contrary, people are usually iritized. Either ask my counterpart carefully, since he does not yet know this form of writing. Or the more common version: raising an eyebrow or a laugh combined with an unbeliever asking if I would really write about my own life and why I would think that my life would be so interesting that others would want to read about it?
Even though I have long since overcome this hurdle and have understood that even “normal” people are allowed (and should also!), I am intimidated by such a reaction and do not know exactly what to say in response.
What is considered a memoir?
What is an example of a memoir?
What is the main purpose of a memoir?
What is a memoir easy definition?