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Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Hard Way - The Only Way

"The Tender Bar", a wonderful book by JR Moehringer, marked the beginning of a memoir moratorium for me. Reason for the break? A concern about how much I was learning. Since last August, I've skipped nearly all of the memoirs selected by my book clubs as well as those recommended to me by friends & family.

"Five Finger Discount" by Helene Stapinski (the subject of my last post about a book) already had me re-thinking last summer's pledge. Now "Wait Till Next Year" (1997) by Doris Kearns Goodwin has convinced me to suspend my moratorium. How did Goodwin persuade me to temporarily abandon my resolve? With a memoir about baseball, of all things. "My early years were happily governed by the dual calendars of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Catholic church".  And now that I've been exposed to her exceptional storytelling skills, I'm looking forward to reading Goodwin the historian via "Team Of Rivals", her book that formed the backbone of  Steven Spielberg's film "Lincoln".

So, what about that earlier concern about how much I'm learning when reading memoirs? Well, the uniformly high quality of the prose in "The Tender Bar", "Five Finger Discount" & "Wait Till Next Year", combined with my own recent attempt at writing a memoir, has clearly demonstrated the need to tune up my definition of the word "learn".

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