Discussion Topic: What Type of Memoirs Do You Read?

While you have probably landed on this blog because you like to read memoirs, or at the very least like to read, I would love to find out a little more about what kind of memoirs you like to read. On the blog, I divide memoirs into the following categories:

  • Addiction & Abuse – This can include any kind of addiction. As for the abuse part, it includes all types of abuse and tends to include stories of cult-like abuse of power.
  • Grief & Loss – These are the memoirs about people who have lost spouses, children, siblings, etc. Yet they still find the strength to move on and do great things.
  • History – These tend to be less “memoirs” and more “biographies,” but I still like to include them for variety. They are the stories of those who lived in a time and culture different than our own.
  • Hollywood – While these are primarily memoirs about people famous for being in Hollywood (obviously), they may also include people famous for being famous.
  • Illness & Survival – These memoirs include those who have or have loved those with serious illnesses. They also include those who have survived impossible situations.
  • Poverty – Memoirs in this category are about those who grew up in or spent time working with those in extreme poverty.
  • True Crime – These memoirs are about crime, the criminals who commit them, and those who manage to survive their ordeals.

I gravitate toward true crime memoirs. I’m not sure what it is about them, but they’ve always fascinated me. And unless they have some element of another category, Hollywood memoirs tend not to interest me. Whenever I find myself reading one, I find it takes longer to read because of my disinterest.

What type of memoirs do you read? Do you read a little of everything or do you stick to one kind?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Exploring Carrie Fisher’s Strange Writing Style

Since reading Carrie Fisher’s memoir The Princess Diarist, I have been bothered by Carrie Fisher’s strange writing style. As a casual fan of Star Wars, I may have had an unrealistic expectation of who Carrie Fisher needed to be. Perhaps I expected her to be too much like her iconic character, Princess Leia. Putting my expectations aside, I still found her writing style bizarre and decided to find out if her interviews were just as disconnected or if writing was not her ideal medium.

When searching for videos of interviews with Carrie Fisher, I stumbled upon this interview with the Today Show. Carrie Fisher is asked about her book and its contents. Despite being asked questions that were answered in her book, Fisher appears confused, flustered, and confrontational throughout the entire interview.

What Makes Carrie Fisher’s Writing Strange

Although I briefly mentioned some of strange things about her writing in my previous post, the following are the things that I found strange about Fisher’s writing style:

  • She went on “rabbit trails” frequently. While I do not mind rabbit trails, her use of them made her train of thought difficult to follow.
  • Her stories seemed to divert from reality. When reading memoirs, regardless of whose memoir I’m reading, I’ve generally chosen to believe that everything in it is true. However, some of what she wrote was so far from reality that I find it difficult to ignore. While none of those things were related to her affair with Harrison Ford (the main topic of the book), they are still significant. Most notable was one entry in her nineteen-year-old diary about a fish coming to her on a flaming pie, then falling out her window and later going on to show business. Perhaps she was speaking in metaphors, but that whole entry was so strangely written that I read it a few times. Other passages, though not as strange, similarly seem to divert from reality.
  • The tone of the entire book seems angry. Yet in several places she actually writes things to try to say, “I’m not angry about this,” or “I don’t hate this; I actually love it.”

Carrie Fisher’s Style is Her Own

After watching this interview, I have come to the conclusion that the strange writing style Fisher adopts is not because of her being an actor first and a writing second, but because her writing truly reflects her personality. Throughout the Today Show interview, I saw many of the same things that I saw in the book.

Carrie Fisher appeared very confused by the questions that the ladies were asking her. At one point, they asked her if Harrison Ford made the first move in the affair, and she immediately said no. Getting flustered by the question, she began to protest their questions, and they pointed out that nothing they were asking wasn’t already in the book. Fisher joked that they should read the book, then. They re-worded the question, then, to ask if she made the first move, and she said that she was drunk and surprised, implying that she did not. She answered “no” to both questions, implying that she did not understand at least one of them.

I also saw some of the same angry tone that I saw throughout the book in this interview. Perhaps some of the questions she misunderstood put her on edge, but Fisher appeared to be very aggressive in some places in this interview. While she also tried to keep it lighthearted, it felt to me as if she was just angry about the whole thing. She even mentioned at one point that she was not sure how she felt about having confessed what she did in her memoir. Perhaps the consequences of publishing the book have been upsetting to her, putting her on guard for these interviews.

Finally, I noticed that she was changing topic and getting stuck in the middle of sentences. While that is a perfectly normal thing to do while being interviewed, I believe that it also reflects her writing style well. It is my conclusion that while the whole of her style of writing seems strange to me, it is very authentic to the voice of Carrie Fisher and who she is.

A Tale of Two Trails

If after reading Wild you feel inspired to go on a long hike, you may find yourself pondering the differences between the Appalachian Trail (AT) and the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). While Cheryl Strayed (the author of Wild) traveled the PCT, the AT is another great option for anyone looking to complete a long hike. In 1968, the National Trails System Act became law and made the AT and PCT its first two trails. While these two trails have a lot in common, they have many things that make them unique.

The Appalachian Trail is 2,190 miles long and goes through fourteen states. Those who choose to hike its length will cross through Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Thousands attempt a thru-hike each year, but only about one in four complete that journey. A typical hiker takes about five to seven months to hike the entire trail.

The Pacific Crest Trail is the longer of the two trails, spanning 2,650 miles. It runs from the Mexican to the Canadian border, going through California, Oregon, and Washington. Although an especially athletic hiker can make it in 100 days, a more typical hike takes five to six months. Considering all expenses, many find that this journey costs them $4000-$8000, depending on how their money is spent. Some spend even more if medical emergencies arise or if they choose expensive lodging along the way.

Unique Qualities of the Trails

There are many things that makes the Appalachian Trail unique. Although it is nearly as long as the PCT, some of its conditions make it easier to traverse. While a hike of this magnitude still requires training, hikers on the AT will find 250 shelters along the trail. These shelters are available on a first come, first serve basis and allow extra protection from the elements. Hikers on the AT also only need to carry food and supplies for three to six days at a time, since there are towns to get supplies in frequently along the trail. Despite being the older of the two trails, the AT had the more modern website. The website also appeared to have many articles that tried to appeal to a broader audience with the trail’s more modern feel.

The Pacific Crest Trail also has things that make it stand apart from other trails. While many may see the modernity and conveniences of the AT appealing, the design of the PCT is intentional. They have intentionally limited the number of signs to only include signs at junctions and every couple of miles so that hikers will have a true wilderness experience on their thru-hikes. Unlike the AT, which is for walkers only, the PCT allows its visitors to ride the trail on horseback. For some, the highlight of this trail is being able to climb Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the United States. Despite this trail’s rural charm, there are places to restock along the way. Some who have taken their phones with them even claim to have reception along about 70% of the trail.

Similarities between the Trails

The websites for the AT and the PCT (where I got all of my information) make special note of being sure that those who want to do something special for hikers Leave No Trace. When a person does something kind for a hiker, it is called “trail magic” and that person is called a “trail angel.” While these people often set up at trail heads and prepare meals or offer showers and shelter, some have begun to leave coolers with food in them along the trail. Both the AT and PCT websites asked that trail angels not do this, as it leads to litter problems when animals get into them. Those who wish to do something kind for hikers are encouraged to do so in person. Hikers are also encouraged to use judgement when accepting things from strangers.

In addition to this similar culture of kindness with trail magic and trail angels, the two trails have other major similarities. They are both long trails that span multiple states. Despite their different hiking experiences and climates, they also have a similar hiking time for the average person. A hiker who plans to hike either of these two trails will need to plan their hike and prepare by getting their supplies, training their bodies, and making sure loved ones know where they are and when to expect to hear from them. While the AT does not require as many permits as the PCT, some permits are needed for some camping sites. Any hiker planning a trip of this magnitude will likely spend more time planning than hiking.