Memoir Three Ways

I’m a big fan of memoir.  Not celebrity tell-alls, biographies of famous people or recountings of great adventures or tragedies–though these have their place.  My heart belongs to those who take their experiences–often common and ordinary–and weave them into something extraordinary, who take moments from their lives–and make them into art.  Here are three examples who currently smite me:

1) On Stage:  Alice Johnson, Bitch Trouble. A one woman show in which Alice details the rise and fall of three friendships during childhood, adolescence and adulthood.  She plays a dozen characters, and she’s hilarious and lyrical and profane.  If you live in Los Angeles, you’re lucky–you can still go see it, and you should.

2) In pictures on a blog: Hyperbole and a Half.  Allie Brosh illustrates her life-based anecdotes with inimitable cartoons. She’s recently had a depression-related hiatus from her blog, but I came home tonight (after Alice’s show) to find a post, and was grateful to see it.

3) In poems: Sharon Olds.  Have I mentioned the poetry class I took this past semester?   At first when I saw the assignment to write a paper on a poet, I thought I would have to pick one at random, that no one poet would capture my heart, but several weeks in, I stumbled on Sharon Olds.  Apparently I’m not the only one whose heart has been captured, because a month after my discovery of her (but about thirty years after her first of many publications) her most recent book, Stags Leap, won a Pulitzer Prize.