Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Between the Lines: Memory and Memoir

by Zinta Aistars
for WMUK 102.1 FM
Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate

Between the Lines is my weekly radio show about books and writers with a Michigan connection. It airs every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m., and 4:20 p.m. (or listen anytime online), on WMUK 102.1 FM, Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate. I am the host of Between the Lines.

This week's guest: Gail Griffin

Gail Griffin (Photo by Russell Cooper)

Gail Griffin says writing a memoir may be the most challenging, even painful, kind of work for writers. Griffin is the Parfet Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English at Kalamazoo College, where she taught from 1977 to 2013. She is also the author of several books. The most recent is The Events of October: Murder-Suicide on a Small Campus, about a tragedy on the Kalamazoo College campus in October 1999.

“People think it’s going to be easy,” Griffin says about writing memoirs. “Because it’s what you know, it’s your own life. Just write it down. But in fact, to make a memoir meaningful takes a great deal more than just writing it down. Memory is a tricky thing.”
Griffin says memory is often colored by our perspective. And that perspective changes in countless subtle ways as we grow older and accumulate life experiences. Memories rise up from the deep not as coherent stories, she says, but can be a patchwork of passing images.
“It’s not the nature of what you remember,” Griffin says. “It’s how you treat what you remember.”
Writing down personal truths can mean stepping on the toes of others in our lives, she admits. Griffin says she's stepped on ...

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