Memoirs – expect the unexpected, that’s for sure. A recent “memoir” critiqued in The Globe and Mail is An Exclusive Love, which is a memoir about suicide – someone else’s. Two someone elses. Author Johanna Adorjan writes about the dual suicides of her grandparents; the grandfather in failing health and wishing to exit his life, the grandmother unwilling to live without him. The critique praises Adorjan’s book and calls it, fittingly, a “memorial” to the grandparents. The overall description of the book sounds fascinating. I would read it in a wink.
Another recent review in The Globe and Mail, done by columnist Leah McLaren, discusses “widow lit,” which while it is a term I hadn’t heard before, it’s certainly a genre I’ve been assiduously avoiding (just cannot even open The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion). I am married to an older man – quite a bit older than me. I don’t want to even think about any of this. Anyway, it’s poor old Joyce Carol Oates who wrote a recent “widow lit” memoir, when she unexpectedly lost her husband of 47 years, Raymond J. Smith. Says MacLaren: “A Widow’s Story is more than an individual tale of woe. It’s also a seminal text in an emerging literary genre. First there was chick lit, then came mummy lit. Now we have widow lit – a wave of books unleashed by the experience of losing a loved one.”
Gentle readers, you go right ahead and enjoy yourselves with this genre. I’ll pass. But I did want to note its emergence and perhaps its looming pervasiveness.
One last memoir from recent G & M gleanings: Inside Wikileaks, by Daniel Somscheit-Berg. Well of course, you could see something like this coming. Make money as you can, from someone famous, now fallen on hard times. “Disillusioned insider’s take on the rise and fall of Wikileaks is much like reading a 21st-century version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm,” writes reviewer Colin Freeze. “Both books feature a rag-tag handful of insurgents, whose teamwork garners them initial success. And both portray a charismatic autocrat as the group’s leader, a figurehead who publicly denounces tyranny, even as he privately imposes it.”
“People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like” – President Lincoln once said.