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Memoir Revolution: A Social Shift that Uses Your Story to Heal, Connect, and Inspire Paperback – April 9, 2013

4.8 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Author

Memoir Revolution: What It Is and Why Join It

When I attended my first memoir writing class in the summer of 2004, I quickly realized I wasn't alone.  Many others were reviewing their memories in search of interesting stories. To learn more, I began reading memoirs, many by authors whose main claim to fame was that they had taken the time to turn their lives into stories.

Each book offered a rich, generous window into the author's life. To organize my thoughts and share them, I posted essays on my blog. Again, I found I wasn't alone. Through the Internet, I started corresponding with other memoir bloggers and then with memoir writers. We were forming online communities!

I began teaching workshops where I introduced students to techniques for finding their own narratives. Once they realized they could translate the chaos of memories into the order of stories, they expressed their appreciation. Their excitement added to mine.

In 2008, a book publisher heard me speak and said I ought to write about my big ideas. "What big ideas?" I asked. "You know. What you've been saying about the importance of memoirs for individuals and society."

At first I resisted the suggestion. I have always been addicted to ideas, and thought that finally in my later life, I was ready to replace analytical thoughts with lyrical ones. However, I couldn't resist the challenge. I thought that perhaps I could achieve both goals. I would try to turn my ideas about memoirs into a good story.

To illustrate my observations, I provided specific examples from my growing shelf of memoirs. I soon realized I was writing a book about books. This turned out to be one of the biggest ideas of all. In our literate society, we learn so much about life from the writings that have been recorded before us. As memoir writers ourselves we pass along what we have learned to the next generation.

After five years of reading, interviewing, writing and revising, my editors reassured me that the book was ready. In 2013, I published the Memoir Revolution: A Social Shift that Uses Your Story to Heal, Connect, and Inspire. In the book, I explore the current interest in memoirs: where it came from, why it is having such a profound influence on readers and writers, what I have learned from it and what you can too.

One reason I felt so compelled to write the book was because of my belief that writing a memoir can be a powerful aid to self-understanding. Turning life into story moves events from their haphazard storage in memory back into a sequence. We see the scenes more clearly, and by finding the narrative that links them, we understand ourselves in a new light.

Unlike more isolated forms of introspection such as therapy and journaling, this one reaches outward. From the time you share a few anecdotes with fellow writers, you begin to see yourself the way others have seen you, providing an almost magical amalgamation of self and society.

When I was growing up in the sixties, I looked for my truth in the stories popular among young intellectuals. Authors like Franz Kafka, Joseph Heller, Samuel Beckett, and Albert Camus convinced me that life is meaningless. Their powerful literary works helped me dismantle my trust in the world, and without trust, I sank.

Now in the 21st century, memoirs offer a more healing collection of stories that weave the good and the bad in life into a purposeful narrative. Instead of undermining readers with disturbing twists of irony and dystopia, modern memoir authors shape real life, with its cruelties, vagaries and victories into an orderly container as ancient as civilization itself.

The bestselling authors in the front lines of the Memoir Revolution taught us about this healing potential of life stories. By sharing the psychological influences that shaped them Tobias Wolff (This Boy's Life), Frank McCourt (Angela's Ashes) and Jeannette Walls (Glass Castle) gave the rest of us license to explore our own. Like published authors who have worked long and hard to discover the purpose and character arc of their protagonist, we aspiring memoir writers strive to find the same driving forces within our own lives.

Memoir-lovers in my experience intuitively recognize the potential that this genre has for healing us individually and collectively. My book, Memoir Revolution, backs up these intuitive views with research and examples about how the cultural passion for life stories serves us all.

About the Author

Jerry Waxler teaches writing at Northampton Community College, in Bethlehem, PA, as well as at writing and self-development groups around the country. He is on the board of the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference and National Association of Memoir Writers and holds a BA in Physics and an MS in Counseling Psychology. His blog Memory Writers Network contains hundreds of essays, reviews, and interviews about reading and writing memoirs.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Neuralcoach Press; 1 edition (April 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0977189538
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977189533
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,587,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Folk wisdom tells us that milking stools always had three legs, because three-legged stools are virtually impossible to tip over. Jerry Waxler's book, The Memoir Revolution is a three-legged story. His passion for the topic of memoir shines through on every page. He inserts snippets of personal experience to explain how the study and practice of memoir writing has given deep satisfaction and meaning to his own life, and in the process, he gives solid instruction in how to go about writing your own.

Throughout the book, he draws upon the hundred plus memoirs he has read, analyzed, and discussed on his blog to illustrate points about memoir structure and its healing value for individuals. He builds on this base to demonstrate how memoir is not only helping individuals find deeper meaning, it's developing bonds between people of diverse backgrounds. As we read each others stories, we discover that across the boundaries of culture, nationality, and personal preferences we all want and feel similar things. We are more alike than not. While many other forces seem to be pulling people apart, creating a sense of alienation and isolation, memoir has the opposite effect, pulling the world together, one story at a time.

I guarantee that you'll have at least twenty books on your "gotta read" list when you finish The Memoir Revolution. By making it the first book on your list, you'll appreciate the following ones far more, and you'll certainly be infected with Waxler's passion for memoir.
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Format: Paperback
In this cutting edge analysis, Jerry Waxler traces the growth of memoir as a distinct genre worthy of literary recognition through the lenses of his own personal story, history, social issues, psychology and the human condition with the power of Story being the unifying theme.
Coining the term, "Memoir Revolution," he shows us through his own story of personal transformation as well as through his review of many memoirs, how sharing our stories draws us into a global community and breaks down barriers. Jerry delivers a fascinating and inspirational message that inviting others into our personal stories through memoir can be transformational for both the individual and the world we live in. In a rallying cry for memoir writers, he says:
"When I looked for teachers, I found them everywhere. I learned from literature professors, therapists and creative-writing teachers. Above all, I reached out across the bridges that memoir writers had created from their lives to mine. Together, we were transforming our search for truth from a private to a public experience. By reading and writing together, our loosely knit groups fostered deeper appreciation for the power of Story within our own lives."
He draws us in through his personal coming-of-age stories as well as from his indepth reviews of a wide variety of memoirs presented on his blog, Memoir Writer's Network. I highly recommend this groundbreaking, thought-provoking and well-researched memoir which captures Jerry's passion for the genre and lights the way for all who aspire to write our own memoirs.
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Format: Paperback
In a clear and precise style, Jerry Waxler weaves a remarkable vision of the relationship between story and real life. His exploration of the development of the memoir form as a literary and social phenomenon is unsurpassed, and his ability to connect his personal story to the extraordinary changes in the culture provides just the right context for our understanding of how and why the memoir revolution happened. As a bonus, he also offers valuable practical advice on writing a memoir. No doubt, 'Memoir Revolution' is an important book, one that needs to be read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm in love with this very encouraging and helpful book. And so far I've only read the kindle exerpt. In a time when the publishing business is so fraught with confusion, in a time when none of us know where the next step is, this author stopped me in my tracks to tell me the only step is to write this thing that won't let me go. To read every possible memoir that time permits, to digest how others tell their story, and finally, to understand that what has been driving me is not just my story, but that story is how we record ourselves into the fabric of humanity. I know only one thing so far: When I tell parts of my story to others, what I see on their faces is the same thing: hunger. To know. To know. To know. In a few short paragraphs this author affirmed me before my second draft. I'll go to school out under the spreading oak tree off my deck with my kindle in hand and read what I must know to get there. Thank you Jerry Waxler, for ending my despair. Writing my story healed me and I knew instinctively that it is an inspiration for others, and is perhaps shameful to keep to myself. So I'm about to sit around the campfire right outside the cave and take my turn at telling my story. I've already given my heart to Harry Bernstein, having written an essay after his work called I'm In Love With A Dead Man.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are so many, many books available in this genre; this would be one of my last choices. The author writes a little like he discovered the Internet. Ya know? And the book has a "self-published" feel to it that doesn't appeal to me. Instead, you could read Thinking About Memoir (Abigail Thomas), Writing From Life (Susan Wittig Albert), Remembering Your Story (Richard Morgan), Telling the Stories of Life through Guided Autobiography Groups (James Birren), Storycatcher (Christina Baldwin), Memoirs of the Soul (Nan Phifer) or a hundred other better-written books in the same genre.
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