Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Memoirs are seductive. They draw you in with painful honest truths like you are listening ear pressed against a confessional box as someone purges their sins. It's like a voyeur peering into a secret life, you feel like you shouldn't be there but when you are it is soothing and you continue to go back for more. I tend to read memoirs in a few short days, once I pick it up I can't put it down. Eli Wiesel's Night was the first memoir this happened with when I was only thirteen, I read it in one afternoon. Memoirs are more than just stories, they are real people that when you learn about them you can say, hey that's like me. Even when you haven't been through that same experience there is something about the raw emotions that is therapeutic. I would argue that narrative writing is therapeutic, but I also don't have any memoirs published so for now I'll stick to the reading experience.

Reading psychological studies and books can be slow sleepy creeps towards understanding. In a memoir you get the rush of emotions and psychology within one fell swoop. I happened to take a psychology class this year where memoirs helped to introduce many psychological concepts. It almost felt like cheating. I've learned a lot from memoirs and narratives such as Nobody Nowhere and The Boy Who Loved Windows. Each book displays not just facts but details of emotions, and secondary symptoms, that many theories do not begin to fully explain. Most of all they show the story of the individual, something that is so important in psychology. A person is not their diagnosis but an individual dealing with a problem.

I'm taking this somewhere, or at least, to a certain book. In just over 24 hours I read, I drank up every drop of, Carolin Kettlewell's Skin Game. Read it. Really, I cannot recommend this book more. If you don't read this, go out an read a memoir, because it can enthrall you, entertain you, and soothe you all at the same time.

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