memory into memoir

Publisher: University of New Mexico Presss, 2021


Everyone has memories, but not everyone writes a memoir. Memory is amorphous, but memoir is tangible, the past portrayed in narrative. Memory Into Memoir guides readers through the writing process: how to wrestle the unruly past to the page. How to create prose that has girth, worth and vitality.

The past never comes to us whole cloth, but in bits and shards, fragments. Beginning with those fragments, this book shows writers to fuse memory and imagination into narrative. The memoir is an elastic genre, narrow enough to focus on a single childhood summer, broad enough to encompass a whole family’s generational history. Though one’s past is always shared with others, truth in the memoir is relative to the teller. Central to that truth is this: the memoir is not the story of what you know, it’s the story of how you learned it.

Memory into Memoir has its roots in classes Laura Kalpakian taught for many years, beginning at the University of Washington where she served as Theodore Roethke Writer-in- Residence. She writes with authority and humor to empower and inspire writers. Rich in lively examples, extensive resources, animating prompts, Memory into Memoir is perfect for everyone who knows they have stories to tell, who wants to bring those stories to narrative fruition. With its broad embrace of technique and development, its range of reference, Memory into Memoir can also benefit writers of fiction and nonfiction. The perfect book for the seasoned writer, the aspiring writer, or even for the reluctant writer whose first forays need a knowledgeable, encouraging companion.

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