Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Book Review: Fearless Confessions

Because I was toying with the idea of working on a memoir, I checked my library's holdings to see what other books they had besides the Beth Kephart one I read awhile back, Handling the Truth. Once again, just like with Kephart's book, I'm doubtful that this is the best out there in terms of books about writing memoir. Even though I haven't found it, I'm certain there's a book which would make me stand up and say, now that is some practical, helpful, well-organized advice on writing a memoir. Although, this wasn't it, Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir, does do a decent job of discussing the genre and what it takes to bleed out a memoir. The author has written two memoirs, so she has experience with the genre.

I certainly benefited from reading this book. I think it helped me in my start, anyway. I was reminded to focus on sensory imagery and also to plan the arc of the story or plot how the book will be laid out. Each chapter concluded with helpful writing exercises and, while I didn't take the time to participate in these exercises, I felt they were well-done. Another benefit of the book is the mention of many memoir titles (including an extensive reading list at the end of the book, divided into categories by subject), a defense for writing memoir, and examples of some quality memoir-styled writing (most of these were personal experience essays, since she couldn't exactly include whole memoirs, obviously).

I came away from this book encouraged to admit that I do, indeed, have a story to tell (everyone has a story within them waiting to get out in some way or form). I'm still not sure whether I will share my story in memoir form or simply in a fictional form with an autobiographical foundation. As Silverman observes, it does take a certain sense of fearlessness to put one's self out there in a brutally honest memoir. Even if I have an important story to share, I'm not sure I have the guts for fearless confessions.

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