BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

"Tell the reader about your problems..."“Tell the reader about your problems…”

At Kirkus Reviews, Debra Monroe mourns the passing of what used to be called “autobiography”:

I miss the big genre I first fell in love with.

Fifteen years ago, I read The Boys of My Youth by Jo Ann Beard, Truth Serum by Bernard Cooper, A Romantic Education by Patricia Hampl, The Color of Water by James McBride, Mountain City by Gregory Martin, and that pioneering exemplar first published in 1977 as “autobiography” because no one called them memoirs yet, Stop-Time by Frank Conroy. I apologize if I’ve failed to mention your favorite memoir that predates the recovery memoir. These are mine. Filled with dramatic scenes and nearly aphoristic insight about the individual’s relation to history, culture, and community, they delivered exciting new reasons to read.

Yet within a decade, the ordinary person’s memoir—which in the 1990s appeared as a new rendition of a…

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