Nina Wingard Freese was a retired special education teacher of autistic students who died as a result of ALS – Lou Gehrig’s disease. Contemplative and enhanced with photographs, the book presents Nina as a little girl and again several more times as she is growing up and as a young mother and then as a handsome, mature woman.
There is a great warmth and sincerity embedded within this memoir, mixed in with gentle humour, discussions of complex research on genetics, birth, death, siblings, parents, family, Greek culture, love. The genesis of the story arises from a secret, one of the biggest secrets a person can have revealed to them, that of their true origins.
In her evocative memoir, not a poster child, Francine Falk-Allen achieves her goal of describing life well-lived while handicapped. In so doing, she fulfills another goal: to honor all handicapped individuals. What results is a remarkable story told in an easily accessible and conversational manner with intelligence, wit, and grace.
However true to fact and corroborated by photos and drawings, memoir is always subject to recreation, to one-sided perception, rewriting, and recasting. It is always both true and fictive, and like dreams, pieced together from a grab-bag of images and turned into stories that reflect the themes being explored. The Age of Fibs picks up on this uncertainty beautifully and works with it, allowing for openness, complexity, and fragmentation, while still keeping the coherency of the story intact.
There is so much about the human condition that is illuminated here in these beautifully written pieces. Wright takes the painful, the personal and the often unbearable frailty of life, and expands it so that the work becomes a celebration of being alive, of human resilience and of the beauty of the everyday.
As dementia begins to rob an already private and absentminded man of his memories, Michael becomes set on reconstructing his father’s childhood from recordings, news articles, and his father’s own accounts, in a journey to understand what had crafted his father into the man he is, and how that has formed Michael himself.
The Museum of Words is a story about language and how it’s able to move between and beyond the constriction of time. At one point, Blain talks about the light coming in – a dawning awareness of the privilege of life. In this The Museum of Words is a universal story which encompasses all of our frailty and impending demise and encourages all of us to be grateful for the little time we have.
Miller, the “writing whisperer” as Jessica Rowe puts it, has created a vital guide to memoir and other forms of creative nonfiction. Though there are many how-to guides on the market, this one is special, both for its depth of wisdom – Miller has over 26 years of experience in teaching others how to write creative nonfiction, as well as her own experience as a nonfiction author/memoirist – and for the simplicity and practicality of its approach.
The title to his newest and third book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? and its subtitle, “My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating” reflects an intellectual sensibility conveyed clearly and directly. It underscores the very points he is trying to make in this book. Alda has a gift for speaking about lofty ideas in layman’s terms, and his fervor for his subject matter shines through. This passion is at the heart of what engages us.
Some readers may claim that the memoir is about a privileged girl getting high all the time. But her brutal honesty and writing style about her not-so-glamorous experiences – going to rehab, struggling with bulimia, her reliance on stimulants – shows that there’s merit to this memoir. She’s not a bad writer, she’s just creative in expressing herself and conveying it to me. It doesn’t matter to me that she’s not following conventional grammar and syntax – she’s found a medium that works for her.