A few weeks ago I was a moderator for a panel discussion at Omega’s Memoir Festival. As part of my introductory remarks, I listed a few qualities I found in each of the memoirs I’d read by all the faculty teaching that weekend. Far be it from me to predict that my list would be such a hit.
Many people came up to me throughout the weekend to ask me for the list, and when I showed them they wrote it down. Alphie McCourt, one of the faculty members, joked that he thought the words should be engraved on a couple of stone tablets.
I think what happened is that these qualities are universal qualities of a life lived fully. And, as such, they capture the qualities we want to see in any memoir.
And now, the list: fear, failure, doubt, guilt, hope, shame, confusion, euphoria, bewilderment, ambivalence, disappointment, expectation, dislocation, pain, heartbreak, love, lust, decision, indecision, adjustment, loneliness, rage, and redemption.
Can you think of any others?