Why We’re Drawn To Biography, Part IV

Why We’re Drawn To Biography, Part IV
So far in this blog series we’ve been focusing on famous authors. But they’re not the only ones who write popular memoirs. Just this past Sunday, the New York Times Book Review section featured an essay on the “self-help” memoir. Because there are now so many of these books, they have formed a “new subgenre,” maintains the essay’s author, Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow, who says that the modern self-help memoir is a “a kind of long-form personal narrative fused with life coaching.” The author of such a memoir, typically not a famous person, has achieved a positive change and writes a book coaching readers in how to do the same. “The selling point is not that their challenges are exceptional, but that they are common,” Tuhus-Dubrow writes. “Like us, the authors are just trying to find true love or raise good kids or enjoy life more.”
Some of you who are crafting your stories on WriteMyMemoirs fall into this group. You write your memoir not only to document the facts of your life, but also to share with friends, and perhaps the world, how you managed to achieve a level of happiness or peace of mind.
“The journey from wretchedness to redemption is one of the most common narrative arcs in memoir,” write Tuhus-Dubrow. “But rather than redemption, the self-help memoir culminates in improvement….The self-help memoirist goes from suboptimal to systematically upgraded.” By writing out the steps of progress, the autobiographer gives readers a method to duplicate the achievement.

So far in this blog series we’ve been focusing on famous authors. But they’re not the only ones who write popular memoirs. Just this past Sunday, the New York Times Book Review section featured an essay, “I Change, You Change,” on the “self-help” memoir. Because there are now so many of these books, they have formed a “new subgenre,” maintains the essay’s author, Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow, who says that the modern self-help memoir is a “a kind of long-form personal narrative fused with life coaching.” The author of such a memoir, typically not a famous person, has achieved a positive change and writes a book coaching readers in how to do the same. “The selling point is not that their challenges are exceptional, but that they are common,” Tuhus-Dubrow writes. “Like us, the authors are just trying to find true love or raise good kids or enjoy life more.”

Some of you who are crafting your stories on WriteMyMemoirs fall into this group. You write your memoir not only to document the facts of your life, but also to share with friends, and perhaps the world, how you managed to achieve a level of happiness or peace of mind.

“The journey from wretchedness to redemption is one of the most common narrative arcs in memoir,” write Tuhus-Dubrow. “But rather than redemption, the self-help memoir culminates in improvement….The self-help memoirist goes from suboptimal to systematically upgraded.” By writing out the steps of progress, the autobiographer gives readers a method to duplicate the achievement.