On Memoirs

I began reading this book three nights ago, but because of papers of my students that I needed to check and lectures I had to prepare, the pages have been mercilessly dogeared.

I have not acquired the more civilized approach of using a book marker.

manhattan

 

Manhattan, when I was young is a memoir written by Mary Cantwell. It’s a working girl’s recollection of New York City in the 1950s and early 60s. I have not much love for this city. Aside from my bitter memory of eating at a Burger King in Hoboken after losing my pair of Rayban Wayfarer in Times Square, New York reminds me of a once great city on its way to gradual decline.

But her life story, I’ve been much engrossed. The New York City of her time was full of promise.

I think that memoirs have to be like this: the writer has to be constantly self-deprecating and completely honest. I suppose honesty has direct proportionality to the degree one tramples on herself in every page until nothing is left but an agglutinated version of one’s bloody self. This honesty will require much from her, including shaming herself, betraying herself, if only to be completely sincere. Readers love characters who are witty but sad, perceptive but sad, accomplished but world weary and sad. 

The talk about memory and the many theories surrounding it, well, they can wait. 

 

 

 

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