I am a hopeless memoir addict. I’d like to attribute this to some erudite factor. However, I have no erudites to give. In further proof of my superficiality, I love memoir because I am nosy as hell. I want all the details and all the particulars, so it’s safe to say that memoirs are the book version of my favorite kind of conversation. Here are three that I love, so if you’re looking to pick up a book this week, maybe one of these might do you.
The House On Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper
Helene Cooper’s life in Liberia was ended in a violent military coup that criminalized her heritage, turning her into a hunted enemy in her home country. In escaping to America, she had to leave people she loved behind. There are larger questions examined in this book about the fragility of populations of a nation in crisis, the brutal truth of being considered human collateral damage, and the struggles to stabilize a chaotic geography. What stays with me, though, is the profound way McDonald’s displacement affects her and the longing for home that echoes through the whole book.
The World’s Largest Man by Harrison Scott Key
This book offended me because there are so many perfect sentences in it and 85% of them are belly-laughing hilarious. Why can’t I write a book like that? Then, in the acknowledgements, there is a word search puzzle filled with the names of the people Harrison Scott Key wants to thank, and when I found THAT I had a rage stroke of envy and now I can barely look at you when I am telling you to read this extremely funny, extremely moving book about growing up in rural Mississippi when you really should have grown up somewhere like downtown Toronto. Or maybe the greater DC area. Anyway go read it. I’ll just sit here and fume.
The Tender Bar: A Memoir by JR Moehringer
J.R. Moehringer’s book about the men in his life who step in to fill the void left by an absent father and the family bar which served as the grounded center of his childhood universe utterly astounded me. I have recommended it over and over, and of course had to replace my copy because I gave it away. The Tender Bar is also the only book that has ever gaslighted me because when I read Open by Andre Agassi, I had no idea that J.R. Moehringer had served as Agassi’s co-writer, and I spent the whole book freaked out at how much it reminded me of The Tender Bar. So, what I’m saying when you are reading other books be careful because The Tender Bar is probably watching you.