It’s amazing how you remember everything so clearly,” a woman said. ”All those conversations, details. Were you ever worried that you might get something wrong?” “I didn’t remember it,” Lucy said presently. “I wrote it. I’m a writer.”
Ann Patchett, Truth and Beauty

I notice that celebs dish dirt with gossipy relish in their memoirs. They divulge intimate details and write (maybe too) frankly about their addictions and indiscretions.

Some, not all, are nightmarish portraits of rampant dysfunction, freak-show tell-alls.

And then there are the politicians who give us a sense of their inner lives, some writing about history’s most interesting characters and what really goes on behind the scenes in high places.  Given the nature of the beast, I tend to read them skeptically. Spinning the truth is part and parcel of a political life. There’s also bias to consider. But what a reveal ~ bumpy campaigns, internal rivalries, and beyond-boggling personalities.

I like memoirs that promise excitement, barely-known facts about compelling secrets of society. I relish insights into the minds of people in unusual and/or illegal circumstances.

Blowing My Cover: My LIfe as a CIA Spy by Lindsay Moran

A Harvard grad, Moran worked undercover in Macedonia. She shares the intensive training process, the difficulties in remembering details of a fake life, and the strains of not being able to communicate freely with friends and family.  I wonder ~ what’s behind the urge to spy and tell?

Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake by Frank W. Abagnale

This brazen and successful liar/forger/imposter/escape artist spent millions of dollars he didn’t have and traveled for free all over the world by pretending to be a pilot.  His story astonished me, a reminder of the importance of thorough background checks.  Now this rogue is an expert in fraud prevention and the author of an irresistible tale of deceit.

Jumping Fire: A Smokejumper’s Memoir of Fighting Wildfire by Murray A. Taylor

Taylor spent years parachuting out of airplanes into remote areas of Alaska to battle wildfires.  He’s no rookie.  He writes about the epic battles of man versus nature, death-defying defeats, serious injury, and even tragedy. He puts you in the ready room, on the tundra, and in the vast forests of one of our last wilderness areas.

Memoirs of a Sword Swallower by Daniel P. Mannix

Mannix explains how he came to be a fire-eater and sword-swallower with a traveling sideshow, tricks of the trade that keep the entertainment from being fatal, and what carnival life is really like.

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain

I really didn’t need or want to know everything Bourdain revealed, but I’m a better-informed consumer than before. I like his style ~ Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screwtop jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don’t deserve to eat garlic.  Bourdain swings open the kitchen doors for us curious gourmands hungry for wild-but-true tales of the culinary kind.

Memorists write with candor about their rollercoaster lives.

“Tell the truth, or someone will tell it for you.”

What memoir packed an emotional wallop for you?

Or, maybe, you’re writing your own?



Meet you here next Sunday.

Toni 9/22/13


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