Many of us love reading memoirs, but how many of us could write one? It might be fun for everybody to know the truth about our sordid lives—assuming those lives were interesting enough. Chances are many of us would have to make half of it up.
What Is It
A memoir is a personal narrative written about a pivotal time in the author’s life. While the story is told from a particular perspective, the events recounted are supposed to be fact, not fiction. But what exactly counts as truth in memoir? Is the distinction between “literal truth” and “emotional truth” just a way of shirking responsibility for fabricating falsehoods? What other ethical responsibilities does the memoirist have—for example, when it comes to exposing other people’s secrets? And why should anyone read—or write—memoirs in the first place? Josh and Ray take a trip down memory lane with Helena de Bres from Wellesley College, author of Artful Truths: The Philosophy of Memoir.
What can memoir do that other genres can't?
Is it even possible to tell the whole truth about your life?
And when is it okay to reveal other people's secrets?