Improvising on a Life: Memoir as Performance
October 28, 2011 § 3 Comments
“First person narrative, memoir in particular, is like jazz; largely about the player, about where he riffs and scats, and how and why … As with jazz, the more specific and heartfelt the performance, the deeper and wider its impact.
“… as writers of nonfiction in the first person, we get to play, to scat, to take the solo, to emphasize the elements that ring true for us, to slide past the ones that don’t. A writer of memoir takes on personal history — that’s her script, her score — and uses her voice to inform those remembered events and to make them her own. She’s obligated to tell the truth, and she’s obligated to tell it her way.”
~ Dinah Lenney, from her remarkable essay Be Thou the Voice