The recent releases at Hoperoad, Kiskadee Girl, Caribbean Chemistry and The Chocolate Shop Perverts all have the scent of a memoir about them. While we might say that Caribbean Chemistry is touted as a memoir, is it any more ‘true to life’ than The Chocolate Shop Perverts? As we grow older, and look back on our lives, how much do we remember accurately and how many memories do we move around? What happens when we reimagine a situation so often – I wish I had said that, I wish she had said this – that we begin to remember our re-remembered memory as fact, instead of fantasy? And who is there to tell us otherwise?
These novels and memoirs are all interesting in their way, for this. We only see the narrative arc of our real lives from the end of it, and we don’t notice the foreshadowing of our futures as it happens. When writing a novel, novelists must add in surreal touches – the gun seen in Act 1 must be used in Act 2 – which propel the story forward, but which aren’t usual in our daily lived experiences. So memoirs and remembered novels are at once more and less real. The reader is able to escape into somebody else’s real life, but still travel through their memories on the raft of narrative propulsion a fiction novel has.
Readers need the foreshadowing, the thrill of the drama and the promise of resolution. In real life, we are not always so lucky as to experience the ’rounding-up’ of the last few pages.
Perhaps, it is for this reason that we write for catharsis. Life itself doesn’t fit neatly between brightly covered dust jackets, until we take our pens and make it so.
As you read our latest ebook releases, keep these thoughts in your mind. How much of this novel is true to life, and how much is embellishment? How would your life be, if you wrote a memoir? Does it matter, if writers exaggerate the truth in order to make a story ‘fit’?