Minding the memoirs and telling the truths

The literary genre might be facing the consequences of Frey’s fiction.

The recent controversy circling the memoir “A Million Little Pieces” by James Frey has turned many of the author’s fans into very passionate nonfans. However, readers still must be able to look through the false “memoir” label to see the still remaining ” and equally addicting ” tale about life.

The implications of this controversy are numerous for readers and writers alike. Readers now will become more suspicious of memoirs they once would have read and taken without thought. Writers, on the other hand, will have to form more definite lines between the genres and will have to be held more accountable for their memoir works.

The genre of memoir does indeed fall in the nonfiction category in many ways. Memoirs are written to portray a piece or pieces of a persons’ life. The story may have taken place recently or further in the past. This is where fiction has a tendency to come into play. The story is told as the author remembers it or as it was perceived to have happened. This includes the particular emotions and experiences as compared with how the people who have also shared the moment may have felt.

The biggest implication is the increased expectation from readers regarding genre. For example, it is given that when a reader picks up a biography or autobiography that they will read a truthful story about the subject’s life. A memoir, previously known to most as simply the written memory of a moment or moments in the authors’ life, will become expected to be much more like a minibiography.

It is important to consider that perhaps the genre of memoir should hold mainly truths. However, without some expansion of the story by the author, the story will most likely be less interesting, and thus a less popular genre to read and write. If authors will be held accountable complete honesty in memoirs in the future, why even write a memoir?

Memoirs are an important genre that should be appreciated for what it is: stories about life. If they were just plain facts, why would anyone read them?