Saturday, December 5, 2009

MEMOIRS

          Back in October I said that I was reading Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs. I am now reading a second book by him, Possible Side Effects. And I have also been doing a little digging about Mr. Burroughs. I have found that while reading his books, I am often asking the question: "Is this for real?" He tells his tale with a great wit and humor. And I am sure that is what makes such a harrowing tale palatable. I mean, I thought I grew up in a hugely dysfunctional home, with a mother that made Mommy Dearest seem like Bambi. But Augusten weaves a story that is truly scary. I was often left to wonder if he is telling the truth or his truth or if he is a pathological liar.
          In my digging around, I found quite a bit of press on a law suit that was brought against him by the Turcotte family, on whom the Finche family was based for Running With Scissors. They claim that he portrayed them falsely, was in fact libelous. His publisher eventually settled with the family and some stipulations were placed on future editions of the book; a disclaimer that his view of the events and theirs differed greatly, that it was a book and not a memoir.
          One source online claims that the difference between an autobiography and a memoir is that the autobiography tends to be fact-based, whereas a memoir is told from the emotions experienced. And I guess we all know how reliable emotions can or can not be. But I do know that, based on my own experience, the description of any event would be colored by the story teller. Relating the events of my childhood would be one story when told by me, but perhaps very different if told by my mother or my aunt or some other observer, taking into account the emotions that were experienced by the story teller. Mr. Burroughs tale may well have been altogether different if told by a researcher as opposed to one who lived or participated in it. And isn't each valid? Isn't "this is what my life was" equally as valid as "this is what my life felt like",  even though the stories may differ. As they say "Individual results may vary".

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Stumbled upon your blog today because the title of my memoir was in your recent post.... What a delightfully unexpected surprise. I've enjoyed the posts I've read and will definitely be back.

BTW - LOVED the 'dumb blond' ipod post ;-)