Help me put this into words
November 5, 2016 10:33 PM   Subscribe

I've been doing some writing lately. It has been my goal in life to publish at least one book. I haven't made a lot of progress. There's one type of memoir I want to write but I need inspiration. I just don't know what to search for.

The basic premise is that it's about love, relationships and sex in my life, but told in short stories, from childhood to adulthood. Each story would be from one to three chapters long focused on a significant person or situation. The only reoccurring character in each story is myself. There might be some guest appearances of others, but these will be mostly self-contained parts of my life that share common themes and show growth/lack thereof. The stories range from funny to traumatic to sweet, or a combination.

I need inspiration, though. Can anybody recommend any similar books (memoir or not), or even movies, that sound similar? The key is the fragmented nature of the overall story. Thanks!
posted by blackzinfandel to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Lives of girls and women, by Alice Munro?
posted by Valancy Rachel at 10:37 PM on November 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm going to go with David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas. The film was better. But therein lies the example...

The 3 directors (the Wachoski's and Tom Tykwer the director of the impossible Run, Lola, Run) read David Mitchell's novel and somehow got this other entirely incredible story out of the narrative and structure. Like a sculpture, they created the story that was really inside.

I don't want to ruin any of it for you, so read the novel first. Then watch the film. Then try to pick out the differences. This would not fit your question, but what happens there is the same as what Kubrick did to Stephen King's The Shining! Totally repackaged, both are epic.

Cloud Atlas is a master class on how to convey a life's story in vignettes. Thank you for embarking on this calling. Few do it well.
posted by jbenben at 11:41 PM on November 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

You could give Mary McCarthy's Memories of a Catholic Girlhood a try. It has that fragmented feeling to it, and also an interesting conceit where after each chapter, she explains the ways that her memories of each event differ from those of the other people involved. It's more about school and family than relationships, but it does get to some of that later in the book.
posted by thesmallmachine at 11:42 PM on November 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Boyhood might work. Its one of the few (only?) films to film the partly planned/partly collaborated scenes over a dozen years
posted by Jacen at 11:49 PM on November 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Check out David Sedaris's work. His books are collections of essays about his life, and although sometimes they're explicitly connected (for example half of Me Talk Pretty One Day is various episodes from his life in France), more often they are connected in the less-obvious way that you seem to be going for. I think he's doing pretty much exactly what you want to do. You don't necessarily get a sense of his whole life story, and it's not necessarily told in chronological order, but you get a sense of who he is as a person.

I'd start with Naked, which I think is his most impressive book because it marries his sense of humor with some legit powerful emotional stuff, and then Me Talk Pretty One Day, which is just plain funny.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:50 AM on November 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

Check out The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank.
posted by Ziggy500 at 1:18 AM on November 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

Lindy West's Shrill is a book of memoir eassys that all sort of revolve aroud her life as an activist, but each essay is self-contained as well, and the underlying themes are not SUPER obvious unless you read the book front to back. Roxanne Gay's Bad Feminist is similar though her essays are more memoir disguised pop-culture commentary. Your profile says you are male so feminist memoir lit might not be up your alley but there is a reason women kill at the genre.
posted by Brittanie at 2:33 AM on November 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

Julie Hecht, especially Do the Windows Open.
posted by MsMolly at 9:01 AM on November 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Jenny Lawson's books. The second one, Furiously Happy, was better, but the first one, Let's Pretend This Never Happened, might better fit your parameters.

I love love loved the second one.
posted by Neekee at 10:05 AM on November 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

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