Writers and other artists candidly report on the private moments that transformed their destinies.
Smith, proprietor of an eponymous magazine and holder of the six-word memoir franchise, gathers stories of life-changing events from a cadre of ready, self-aware authors, each done in a page or two. A short selection of the contributors: A.J. Jacobs, Melissa Etheridge, Gregory Maguire, Dave Eggers, Elizabeth Gilbert, Jennifer Egan and Judy Collins. There are many “wake-up calls,” some smiles and plenty of tears in these first-person explorations of a few eternal truths. Each of the 125 participants deserves our regard, but the enterprise occasionally becomes a little too rich. The earnest narratives tell of coming out and hiding, of seeking the light, the path, the truth, the way and/or the writers’ inner selves. Those goals were achieved by aid of a word, sign, teacher, family road trip, some dope, an inner voice or, more than once, a Eurail pass. As often as it contains instructive memoirs, such a collection verges on a solipsistic mélange. It’s only natural. Consider all that Too Much Information from strangers about their parents and children, about adolescent and senescent love, about death, fear, illness, stress, ritual, addiction, separation, reconciliation and one dead mouse. It’s all released in a torrent of heartfelt, short stories. The therapeutic public confessionals are augmented with photos, graphics, varied typography and vagrant sentences about still more moments.
An easily read compendium of brief inspirational memory pieces—not necessarily literature, but more in the style of a college-application essay or an assignment in an adult creative-writing course.