Memoir Best Quotes

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I compare myself with my former self, not with others. Not only that, I tend to compare my current self with the best I have been, which is when I have been midly manic. When I am my present "normal" self, I am far removed from when I have been my liveliest, most productive, most intense, most outgoing and effervescent. In short, for myself, I am a hard act to follow.
Kay Redfield Jamison (An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness)
I think the best stories always end up being about the people rather than the event, which is to say character-driven.
Stephen King (On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft)
I used to loathe ambivalence; now I adore it. Ambivalence is my new best friend.
Suzanne Finnamore (Split: A Memoir of Divorce)
I have had the best day ever more times that I can remember. So yes, I believe I am ready to die if that is what is needed to live as I want to.
Hendri Coetzee (Living the Best Day Ever)
Imagine your worst day, multiply it by a hundred, and pray to your God that you never experience what some of the people in this war zone go through, everyday, without any hope of it getting better. Ever. Compared to these people, every day, no matter how bad, is the best day ever. I know nothing about pain, nothing about suffering and hopefully never will.
Hendri Coetzee (Living the Best Day Ever)
Love has, at its best, made the inherent sadness of life bearable, and its beauty manifest.
Kay Redfield Jamison (An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness)
Like books, sports give people a sense of having lived other lives, of taking part in other people’s victories. And defeats. When sports are at their best, the spirit of the fan merges with the spirit of the athlete.
Phil Knight (Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike)
Everyone knows that Africa is not reasonable place but if we can get
across that neither are we, we strengthen the bond with the continent.
People are not conscious beings, just ask any marketer. Irrationality
of the early explorers, irrationality of the new ones, irrationality
of the place we go into. What a great canvas we have to paint on...
Hendri Coetzee (Living the Best Day Ever)
You forget all of it anyway. First, you forget everything you learned-the dates of the Hay-Herran Treaty and Pythagorean Theorem. You especially forget everything you didn't really learn, but just memorized the night before. You forget the names of all but one or two of your teachers, and eventually you'll forget those, too. You forget your junior class schedule and where you used to sit and your best friend's home phone number and the lyrics to that song you must have played a million times. For me, it was something by Simon & Garfunkel. Who knows what it will be for you? And eventually, but slowly, oh so slowly, you forget your humiliations-even the ones that seemed indelible just fade away. You forget who was cool and who was not, who was pretty, smart, athletic, and not. Who went to a good college. Who threw the best parties Who could get you pot. You forget all of them. Even the ones you said you loved, and even the ones you actually did. They're the last to go. And then once you've forgotten enough, you love someone else.
Gabrielle Zevin (Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac)
It's best to have your tools with you. If you don't, you're apt to find something you didn't expect and get discouraged.
Stephen King (On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft)
How do you know? How best to ensure his nervous breakdown?" I ask. "Keep going," Christian says. "Just go on as if nothing has happened. We all hate that.
Suzanne Finnamore (Split: A Memoir of Divorce)
Historical novels are, without question, the best way of teaching history, for they offer the human stories behind the events and leave the reader with a desire to know more.
Louis L'Amour (Education of a Wandering Man: A Memoir)
Story is honorable and trustworthy; plot is shifty, and best kept under house arrest.
Stephen King (On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft)
It's like getting the best Christmas gift ever, but Santa decided to kick the crap out of you before you unwrapped it.
Adrienne Martini (Hillbilly Gothic: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood)
Some of this book—perhaps too much—has been about how I learned to do it. Much of it has been about how you can do it better. The rest of it—and perhaps the best of it—is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you're brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.
Stephen King (On Writing A Memoir of the Craft)
I tell you a secret about Chopin, piano is his best friend. More. He tells piano all his secrets.” - piano teacher Eleanora Sivan.
Anna Goldsworthy (Piano Lessons: A Memoir)
Books are the best means—private, discreet, reliable—of overcoming reality.
Jhumpa Lahiri (In Other Words: A Memoir (Italian Edition))
You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.
Stephen King (On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft)
She had all the best things wrong with her—incest, insanity, drug addiction, bulimia, alopecia: you name it. All the perfect stuff for a memoir. She’s so lucky.
Peter Cameron (Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You)
Martin is your best friend, isn't he?' a sweet and well-intentioned girl once said when both of us were present: it was the only time I ever felt awkward about this precious idea, which seemed somehow to risk diminishment if it were uttered aloud.
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
What I have learned so far had been an incredible journey and adventure. I remained in my own character even when I was not well liked. I now enter a room looking for people I may like rather than for those who will like me. There are people who change their demeanor between regular people and professional people. Just try to be who you are consistently and let those closest to you see your best, along with those you work with. People around you should not be the cause of change in your personal character.
Gaylan D. Wright (Slave to the Dream: Everyone’s Dream)
social mobility isn’t just about money and economics, it’s about a lifestyle change. The wealthy and the powerful aren’t just wealthy and powerful; they follow a different set of norms and mores. When you go from working-class to professional-class, almost everything about your old life becomes unfashionable at best or unhealthy at worst.
J.D. Vance (Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis)
That’s why all those records from high school sound so good. It’s not that the songs were better—it’s that we were listening to them with our friends, drunk for the first time on liqueurs, touching sweaty palms, staring for hours at a poster on the wall, not grossed out by carpet or dirt or crumpled, oily bedsheets. These songs and albums were the best ones because of how huge adolescence felt then, and how nostalgia recasts it now.
Carrie Brownstein (Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir)
The rest of it - and perhaps the best of it - is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you're brave enough to start, you will.
Stephen King (On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft)
Each day has the potential of being your best day. You decide what each day will bring.
Paige Rawl (Positive)
..the best of life is life lived quietly, where nothing happens but our calm journey through the day, where change is imperceptible and the precious life is everything.
John McGahern (All Will Be Well: A Memoir)
That is what you love a friend for: the ability to change your angle of vision, bring back your best self when you feel worst. And speak the truth -- but without malice. Loving candour is the secret of friendship.
Erica Jong (Fear of Fifty: A Midlife Memoir)
In life, we make the best decisions we can with the information we have on hand.
Agnes Fallah Kamara-Umunna (And Still Peace Did Not Come: A Memoir of Reconciliation)
The distant rear of an army engaged in battle is not the best place from which to judge correctly what is going on in front.
Ulysses S. Grant (The Complete Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant)
With six weeks' worth of recuperation time, you'll also be able to see any glaring holes in the plot or character development. And listen--if you spot a few of these big holes, you are forbidden to feel depressed about them or to beat up on yourself. Screw-ups happen to the best of us.
Stephen King (On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft)
For me writing has always been best when it's intimate, as sexy as skin on skin.
Stephen King (On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft)
The morning opens, a mist of innocence appears across the countryside that tells each one of us the day is new. That feeling of hope, love and the humble awareness of our duty becomes clear if even for a moment. It is that experience of inspiration that follows us into a small town woken by a cool frost on this Sunday morning and the laughter of children playing.
Kris Courtney (Norma Jean's Sun: True Story)
The Betty Lady explains love and splitting up: "It´s like playing the shell game with Jesus. You can´t figure anything out; it´s best not to try. You´ll just humiliate yourself.
Suzanne Finnamore (Split: A Memoir of Divorce)
Luxury is best appreciated in small portions. When it becomes routine it loses its allure.
Ruth Reichl (Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir)
Love is the highest and best use of a life.
Sy Montgomery (How To Be A Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals)
As a young man just beginning to publish some short fiction in the t&a magazines, I was fairly optimistic about my chances of getting published; I knew that I had some game, as the basketball players say these days, and I also felt that time was on my side; sooner or later the best-selling writers of the sixties and seventies would either die or go senile, making room for newcomers like me.
Stephen King (On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft)
It's not what we eat or don't eat that makes us good people; it's how we treat one another. As you grow older, you'll find that people of every religion think they're the best, but that's not true. There are good and bad people in every religion. Just because someone is Muslim, Jewish, or Christian doesn't mean a thing. You have to look and see what's in their hearts. That's the only thing that matters, and that's the only detail God cares about.
Firoozeh Dumas (Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America)
Grown-ups, who are supposed to protect their children, are limited by what "best" has felt like to them, based on the circumstances they grew in and the privilege they did or did not have. The lines between grown-up and child were often blurred between me and my mom. Her "best" did not look like mine; in fact, it looked like danger. It felt like surrender.
Samra Habib (We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir)
I believe the best way to begin reconnecting humanity's heart, mind, and soul to nature is for us to share our individual stories.
J. Drew Lanham (The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature)
Relief was what I was looking for that day, and I didn’t care how I got it. What I wanted - what I needed - was a pain that I could see and deal with. I couldn’t cope with the mess inside of me any longer, and cutting myself seemed to be the best solution. I knew that it would work. What I didn’t know was that I was about t engage in a behavior that was not just dangerous but highly, highly addictive.
Victoria Leatham (Bloodletting: A Memoir of Secrets, Self-Harm, and Survival)
I know it is possible to feel this way about other people," I began, pointing to my heart, "I know that there are a lot of ways to love and that each person I date will bring out a different part of me and I will love them all differently. But I always like how I liked you the best.
Elna Baker (The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance: A Memoir)
After a lifetime of hounding authors for advice, I've heard three truths from every mouth: (1) Writing is painful -- it's 'fun' only for novices, the very young, and hacks; (2) other than a few instances of luck, good work only comes through revision; (3) the best revisers often have reading habits that stretch back before the current age, which lends them a sense of history and raises their standards for quality.
Mary Karr (The Art of Memoir)
Nowadays a lot of what was wrong with me would no doubt be ascribed to Attention Deficit Disorder, tartrazine food colouring, dairy produce and air pollution. A few hundred years earlier it would have been demons, still the best analogy I think, but not much help when it comes to a cure.
Stephen Fry (Moab Is My Washpot (Memoir, #1))
Perhaps our loneliness can never be filled with even the best of human love. Maybe the longing for human love is just the beginning, and the longing for God is always the end.
Susan E. Isaacs (Angry Conversations with God: A Snarky but Authentic Spiritual Memoir)
…Here we come close to one of the definitions of literary fiction. Even the best kind of popular novel just comes straight at you; you have no conversation with a popular novel. Whereas you do have a conversation (you have an intense argument) with [literary fiction].
Martin Amis (Experience: A Memoir)
As best I could make out, having never heard the term until I arrived in California, being a WASP meant being mossbacked, lockjawed, rigid, humorless, cold, charmless, insipid, less than penetratingly bright, but otherwise---and inexplicably---to be envied.
Kay Redfield Jamison (An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness)
That first drunk, first high, first sexual encounter, those feelings of first are the most intense, the best remembered, always impossible to attain again.
Justin Donner (I Just Woke Up Dead: A Memoir)
...at the restaurant of her choice, she taught me the lesson of “proximity.” “You don’t have to throw people away,” she said. “You just have to decide how close you want them. Not every person in your life needs to be your best friend: some can be friends or just friendly acquaintances.
Jane Lynch (Happy Accidents: A Memoir)
This does not escape my notice, it is a context. I resent the fact of a context; my social status has shifted and no one is going to acknowldege it, that´s certain. I´m expected to be Brave and Rise Above. I dress for the role; I must look far better now that I did when I was married. I must look pulled together into a nice tight Hermès knot of self-containment. I don´t make the rules; I just do my best to follow them.
Suzanne Finnamore (Split: A Memoir of Divorce)
And the deal with so many chronic illnesses is that most people won't want to believe you. They will tell you that you look great, that it might be in your head only, that it is likely stress, that everything is okay. None of these are the right things to say to someone whose entire existence is a fairly consistent torture of the body and mind. They say it because they are well-intentioned usually, because they wish you the best, but they also say it because you make them uncomfortable. Your existence is evidence of death. . . .
Porochista Khakpour (Sick: A Memoir)
I want to suggest that to write to your best abilities, it behooves you to construct your own toolbox and then build up enough muscle so you can carry it with you. Then, instead of looking at a hard job and getting discouraged, you will perhaps seize the correct tool and get immediately to work.
Stephen King (On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft)
This is the greatest lesson a child can learn. It is the greatest lesson anyone can learn. It has been the greatest lesson I have learned: if you persevere, stick w/it, work @ it, you have a real opportunity to achieve something. Sure, there will be storms along the way. And you might not reach your goal right away. But if you do your best and keep a true compass, you'll get there.
Edward M. Kennedy (True Compass: A Memoir)
It was as if my father had given me, by way of temperament, an impossibly wild, dark, and unbroken horse. It was a horse without a name, and a horse with no experience of a bit between its teeth. My mother taught me to gentle it; gave me the discipline and love to break it; and- as Alexander had known so intuitively with Bucephalus- she understood, and taught me, that the beast was best handled by turning it toward the sun.
Kay Redfield Jamison (An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness)
For more than a century ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as 'internationalists' and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure--one world, if you will. If that's the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.
David Rockefeller (Memoirs)
In my opinion, wounds are like water boiled--they heal best left unwatched.
Gabrielle Zevin (Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac)
Separately is probably how I work best with everyone, to be honest. I'm an introvert who likes people: I want to collaborate on the whole, but do my part individually.
Sid Meier (Sid Meier's Memoir!: A Life in Computer Games)
I wish you fair winds and following sea." And I explain that this is our way of wishing a person the best of luck and a long, good journey through life.
Nick Popaditch (Once a Marine: An Iraq War Tank Commander's Inspirational Memoir of Combat, Courage, and Recovery)
While we’re driving, the passengers like to blather on and on about God knows what, unaware that I’m busy grouping and transforming numbers on license plates into letters
David Finch (The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man's Quest to Be a Better Husband)
Real You is all you have, and all other paths are false. And in the best case, Real You is so happy to finally be recognized, it rewards you with Originality.
Mary Karr (The Art of Memoir)
The highest form of morality is not to feel at home in ones own home." Most great works of the imagination were meant to make you feel like a stranger in your own home. The best fiction always forced us to question what we took for granted. It questioned traditions and expectations when they seemed too immutable. I told my students I wanted them in their readings to consider in what ways these works unsettled them, made them a little uneasy, made them look around and consider the world, like Alice in Wonderland, through different eyes.
Azar Nafisi (Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books)
How young you are. When you attain my age you will understand one of life's great secrets: Luxury is best appreciated in small portions. When it becomes routine it loses its allure.
Ruth Reichl (Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir)
Sometimes a soldier returns home and all he can do is share his story in the hopes that somehow, in some way, it helps another soldier make sense of things. And although the stories may not be perfect, sometimes just sharing is enough to make a difference.
Michael Anthony (Civilianized: A Young Veteran's Memoir)
It makes you think the best way to hold on to something is to pay no attention to it. The things you love too much must perish. You have to treat everything with irony, especially the things you hold dear. There's more of a chance then that they'll survive.
Dmitri Shostakovich (Testimony: The Memoirs)
The word is only a representation of the meaning; even at its best, writing almost always falls short of full meaning. Given that, why in God's name would you want to make things words by choosing a word which is only cousin to the one you really wanted to use?
Stephen King (On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft)
A good friend...once told me, "The best way to look at this might be to recognize that you probably can't fix these things. They'll always be around. But maybe you can put your thumb on the scale a little for the people at the margins" (238).
J.D. Vance (Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis)
The most important things to remember about backstory are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn't very interesting. Stick to the parts that are, and don't get carried away with the rest. Life stories are best received in bars, and only then an hour or so before closing time, and if you are buying.
Stephen King (On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft)
I am doing my best here. I will make it back to New York, but frankly, to spend some time in Paris, Missouri, is to come to question the city, where it is normal to work 24/7, tapping away on your BlackBerry for someone who will fire you in an instant, but crazy to pause to help someone you love when they are falling.
George Hodgman (Bettyville: A Memoir)
That night I slept like a baby. When I woke the next morning I knew I was going to smoke heroin again. Everything that day was enjoyable: sitting on the bus, working all day – it all felt good. It was the best day of my life.
Christine Lewry (Thin Wire: A Mother's Journey Through Her Daughter's Heroin Addiction)
I distrust plot for two reasons: first, because our lives are largely plotless, even when you add in all our reasonable precautions and careful planning; and second, because I believe plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren’t compatible. It’s best that I be as clear about this as I can—I want you to understand that my basic belief about the making of stories is that they pretty much make themselves. The job of the writer is to give them a place to grow (and to transcribe them, of course). If you can see things this way (or at least try to), we can work together comfortably. If, on the other hand, you decide I’m crazy, that’s fine. You won’t be the first.
Stephen King (On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft)
If you refuse me, I shall be compelled to believe that you are cruelly enjoying my misery, and that you have learned in the most accursed school that the best way of preventing a young man from curing himself of an amorous passion is to excite it constantly; but you must agree with me that, to put such tyranny in practice, it is necessary to hate the person it is practised upon, and, if that be so, I ought to call upon my reason to give me the strength necessary to hate you likewise.
Giacomo Casanova (The Memoirs of Casanova, Vol 1: Venetian Years)
My husband claims I have an unhealthy obsession with secondhand bookshops. That I spend too much time daydreaming altogether. But either you intrinsically understand the attraction of searching for hidden treasure amongst rows of dusty shelves or you don't; it's a passion, bordering on a spiritual illness, which cannot be explained to the unaffected. True, they're not for the faint of heart. Wild and chaotic, capricious and frustrating, there are certain physical laws that govern secondhand bookstores and like gravity, they're pretty much nonnegotiable. Paperback editions of D. H. Lawrence must constitute no less than 55 percent of all stock in any shop. Natural law also dictates that the remaining 45 percent consist of at least two shelves worth of literary criticism on Paradise Lost and there should always be an entire room in the basement devoted to military history which, by sheer coincidence, will be haunted by a man in his seventies. (Personal studies prove it's the same man. No matter how quickly you move from one bookshop to the next, he's always there. He's forgotten something about the war that no book can contain, but like a figure in Greek mythology, is doomed to spend his days wandering from basement room to basement room, searching through memoirs of the best/worst days of his life.) Modern booksellers can't really compare with these eccentric charms. They keep regular hours, have central heating, and are staffed by freshly scrubbed young people in black T-shirts. They're devoid of both basement rooms and fallen Greek heroes in smelly tweeds. You'll find no dogs or cats curled up next to ancient space heathers like familiars nor the intoxicating smell of mold and mildew that could emanate equally from the unevenly stacked volumes or from the owner himself. People visit Waterstone's and leave. But secondhand bookshops have pilgrims. The words out of print are a call to arms for those who seek a Holy Grail made of paper and ink.
Kathleen Tessaro (Elegance)
Modern fiction brings out the evil in domestic lives, ordinary relations, people like you and me -- Reader! Bruder! as Humbert said. Evil in Austen, as in most great fiction, lies in the inability to "see" others, hence to empathize with them. What is frightening is that this blindness can exist in the best of us (Eliza Bennet) as well as the worst (Humbert). We are all capable of becoming the blind censor, or imposing our visions and desires on others.
Azar Nafisi (Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books)
...she ventured to recommend a larger allowance of prose in his daily study; and on being requested to particularise, mentioned such works by our best moralists, such collections of fine letters, such memoirs of characters of worth and suffering, as occurred to her at the moment as calculated to rouse and fortify the mind.
Jane Austen (Persuasion)
Rachel Resnick's story of love lost and love sought cracks open the timeworn addiction narrative to release something raw, probing, brave, and redemptive. The courage it took to write this story is challenged only by the courage it must have taken to live it. I sit in awe of such unflinching honesty. LOVE JUNKIE is memoir at its very best.
Hope Edelman (Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss)
Sister, why do you do that?" "Do what?" "Cage the animals at night?" "Well..." She looked up and out through the barred window before answering me."We don't want to, Jennings, but we have to. You see, the animals that are given to us we have to take care of. If we didn't cage them up in one place, we might lose them, they might get hurt or damaged. It's not the best thing, but it's the only way we have to take care of them." "But if somebody loved one them," I asked, "wouldn't it be a good idea to let them have one? To keep, I mean?" "Yes, it would be. But not everyone would love them and take care of them as you would. I wish I could give them all away tomorrow." She looked at me. There were tears in her eyes. "But I can't. My heart would break if I saw just one of those animals lying by the wayside uncared for, unloved. No, Jennings. It's better if we keep them together.
Jennings Michael Burch (They Cage the Animals at Night: The True Story of an Abandoned Child's Struggle for Emotional Survival)
Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy. Some of this book – perhaps too much – has been about how I learned to do it. Much of it has been about how you can do it better. The rest of it – and perhaps the best of it – is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough start, you will.
Stephen King (On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft)
When my friend Matilda lay dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease, she said that she had been prepared all of her life to choose between good and evil. What no one had prepared her for, she lamented, was to choose between the good, the better, and the best—and yet this capacity turned out to be the one she most needed as she watched the sands of her life run out.
Barbara Brown Taylor (Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith)
Nonfiction is at its best an act of putting the world back together - or tearing some piece of it apart to find what's hidden beneath the assumptions or conventions - and in this sense creation and destruction can be akin. The process can be incandescent with excitement, whether from finding some unexpected scrap of information or from recognizing the patterns that begin to arise as the fragments begin to assemble. Something you didn't know well comes into focus, and the world makes sense in a new way, or an old assumption is gutted, and then you try to write it down.
Rebecca Solnit (Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir)
Must you write complete sentences each time, every time? Perish the thought. If your work consists only of fragments and floating clauses, the Grammar Police aren’t going to come and take you away. Even William Strunk, that Mussolini of rhetoric, recognized the delicious pliability of language. “It is an old observation,” he writes, “that the best writers sometimes disregard the rules of rhetoric.” Yet he goes on to add this thought, which I urge you to consider: “Unless he is certain of doing well, [the writer] will probably do best to follow the rules.
Stephen King (On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft)
So I close this long reflection on what I hope is a not-too-quaveringly semi-Semitic note. When I am at home, I will only enter a synagogue for the bar or bat mitzvah of a friend's child, or in order to have a debate with the faithful. (When I was to be wed, I chose a rabbi named Robert Goldburg, an Einsteinian and a Shakespearean and a Spinozist, who had married Arthur Miller to Marilyn Monroe and had a copy of Marilyn’s conversion certificate. He conducted the ceremony in Victor and Annie Navasky's front room, with David Rieff and Steve Wasserman as my best of men.) I wanted to do something to acknowledge, and to knit up, the broken continuity between me and my German-Polish forebears. When I am traveling, I will stop at the shul if it is in a country where Jews are under threat, or dying out, or were once persecuted. This has taken me down queer and sad little side streets in Morocco and Tunisia and Eritrea and India, and in Damascus and Budapest and Prague and Istanbul, more than once to temples that have recently been desecrated by the new breed of racist Islamic gangster. (I have also had quite serious discussions, with Iraqi Kurdish friends, about the possibility of Jews genuinely returning in friendship to the places in northern Iraq from which they were once expelled.) I hate the idea that the dispossession of one people should be held hostage to the victimhood of another, as it is in the Middle East and as it was in Eastern Europe. But I find myself somehow assuming that Jewishness and 'normality' are in some profound way noncompatible. The most gracious thing said to me when I discovered my family secret was by Martin, who after a long evening of ironic reflection said quite simply: 'Hitch, I find that I am a little envious of you.' I choose to think that this proved, once again, his appreciation for the nuances of risk, uncertainty, ambivalence, and ambiguity. These happen to be the very things that 'security' and 'normality,' rather like the fantasy of salvation, cannot purchase.
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
You don’t propose marriage after one date. You don’t decide on a career after one article or class session. You don’t cast your vote based on one opinion of the candidate in question. Stories, essays, novels, and memoirs all deserve to be, indeed have to be read multiple times. Every writer worth his or her salt knows that writing is rewriting. Every reader should know the same thing about understanding text: that is, real reading is rereading.
Dave Eggers (The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2013 (The Best American Series))
Everyone rushes wherever his instincts impel him, the populace swarms like insects over a corpse, poets pass by without having the time to sculpt their thoughts, hardly have they scribbled their ideas down on sheets of paper than the sheets are blown away; everything glitters and everything resounds in this masquerade, beneath its ephemeral royalties and its cardboard scepters, gold flows, wine cascades, cold debauchery lifts her skirts and jigs around…horror! horror! and then there hangs over it all a veil that each one grabs part of to hide himself the best he can. Derision! Horror – horror!
Gustave Flaubert (Memoirs of a Madman (Hesperus Classics))
Regardless of what you do, your body is the subject of public discourse with family, friends, and strangers alike. Your body is subject to commentary when you gain weight, lose weight, or maintain your unacceptable weight. People are quick to offer you statistics and information about the dangers of obesity, as if you are not only fat but also incredibly stupid, unaware, delusional about the realities of your body and a world that is vigorously inhospitable to that body. This commentary is often couched as concern, as people only having your best interests at heart. They forget that you are a person. You are your body, nothing more, and your body should damn well become less.
Roxane Gay (Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body)
I love salmon. Of all my fishy friends, I love salmon the best. Or trout. Or tuna. Or smelts. Oh heck. I love them ALL! But I have such fond memories of salmon. See, my dad was a fisherman. I mean a fanatic fisherman. Fishing was probably what he liked to do most (along with gardening and riding horses and camping in the Sierra and bowling and… ) But honestly, folks, fishing was probably the winner for leisure-time activities.
Mallory M. O'Connor (The Kitchen and the Studio: A Memoir of Food and Art)
When I first thought about writing this book, I conceived of it as a book about moods, and an illness of moods, in the context of an individual life. As I have written it, however, it has somehow turned out to be very much a book about love as well: love as sustainer, as renewer, and as protector. After each seeming death within my mind or heart, love has returned to recreate hope and restore life. It has, at its best, made the inherent sadness of life bearable, and its beauty manifest. It has, inexplicably and savingly, provided not only cloak but lantern for the darker seasons and grimmer weather.
Kay Redfield Jamison (An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness)
We would be in each other's lives again. No, he hadn't been the best father, but he was my father, and we loved each other. We needed each other. Though he'd disappointed me countless times through the years, life had already proven too short for me to hold on to that. So I let go of my hurt. I let go years of frustration between us. Most of all, I let go of any desire to change my father and I accepted him for who he was. I took all of my anguish and released it like a fistful of helium balloons to the sky, and I chose to forgive him.
Liz Murray (Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard)
My alcoholism is in no way any sort of excuse for any of my past behaviors. Just because I quit drinking, my life was not suddenly transformed into a tabula rasa-if I have wronged someone, drunk or not, then the responsibility for this lies squarely with me. And I must do my best to set things square with that person. ... ....And just because I am sober now does not mean anyone else should care. I do not deserve a cookie for finally trying to act like a decent human being.
D. Randall Blythe (Dark Days: A Memoir)
The thing I like best about Max is that he is brave.” “What did he do that was brave?” “It’s not one thing,” I say. “It’s everything. Max is not like any other person in the whole world. Kids make fun of him because he is different. His mom tries to change him into a different boy and his dad tries to treat him like he is someone else. Even his teachers treat him differently, and not always nicely. Even Mrs. Gosk. She is perfect but she still treats Max differently. No one treats him like a regular boy, but everyone wants him to be regular instead of himself. With all that, Max still gets out of bed every morning and goes to school and the park and the bus stop and even the kitchen table.
Matthew Dicks (Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend)
God, how I wish I could relive the whole thing. Short of that, I'd like to share the experience, the ups and downs, so some young man or woman, somewhere, going through the same trials and ordeals, might be inspired or comforted. Or warned. Some young entrepreneur, maybe, some athlete or painter or novelist, might press on. It's all the same drive. The same dream. It would be nice to help them avoid the typical discouragements. I'd tell them to hit pause, think long and hard about how they want to spend their time, and with whom they want to spend it for the next forty years. I'd tell men and women in their midtwenties not to settle for a job or a profession or even a career. Seek a calling. Even if you don't know what that means, seek it. If you're following your calling, the fatigue will be easier to bear, the disappointments will be fuel, the highs will be like nothing you've ever felt. I'd like to warn the best of them, the iconoclasts, the innovators, the rebels, that they will always have a bull's-eye on their backs. The better they get, the bigger the bull's-eye. It's not one man's opinion; it's a law of nature.
Phil Knight (Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike)
Captain Lewis Nixon and I were together every step of the way from D-Day to Berchtesgaden, May 8, 1945 - VE-Day. I still regard Lewis Nixon as the best combat officer who I had the opportunity to work with under fire. He never showed fear, and during the toughest times he could always think clearly and quickly. Very few men can remain poised under an artillery concentration. Nixon was one of those officers. He always trusted me, from the time we met at Officer Candidate School. While we were in training before we shipped overseas, Nixon hid his entire inventory of Vat 69 in my footlocker, under the tray holding my socks, underwear, and sweaters. What greater trust, what greater honor could I ask for than to be trusted with his precious inventory of Vat 69?
Dick Winters (Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters)
As winter went on, longer than long, we both freaked out. My mania grew to insane proportions. I sat in the study room at night, wildly typing out Dali-esque short stories. I sat at my desk in our room, drinking tea, flying on speed. She'd bang into the room in a fury. Or, she'd bang into the room, laughing like a maniac. Or, she'd bang into the room and sit under the desk eating Nutter-Butters. She was a sugar freak. She'd pour packets of sugar down her throat, or long Pixie-Stix. She was in constant motion. At first I wondered if she too had some food issues, subsisting mostly on sugar and peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches on Wonder Bread, but my concern (as she pointed out) was “total transference, seriously, Max. Maybe you're just hungry.” Some Saturdays, we'd go to town together, buy bags and bags of candies, Tootsie Rolls (we both liked vanilla best; she always smelled delicious and wore straight vanilla extract as perfume, which made me hungry), and gummy worms and face- twisting sour things and butterscotch. We'd lie on our backs on the beds, listening to The Who and Queen, bellowing, “I AM THE CHAMPION, YES I AM THE CHAMPION” through mouths full of sticky stuff, or we'd swing from the pipes over the bed and fall shrieking to the floor.
Marya Hornbacher (Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia)
Ironically for someone who had so long asserted his own individuality as his first and best defense against insults of any kind, I discovered that faith in myself proved to be the least formidable strength I possessed when confronting alone organized inhumanity on a greater scale than I had conceived possible. Faith in myself was important, and remains important to my self esteem. But I discovered in prison that faith in myself alone, sep0arate from other, more important allegiances , was ultimately no match for the cruelty that human beings could devise when they were entirely unencumbered by respect for the God given dignity of man. This is the lesson I learned in prison. It is, perhaps, the most important lesson I have ever learned.
John McCain (Faith of My Fathers: A Family Memoir)
One's own best self. For centuries, this was the key concept behind any essential definition of friendship: that one's friend is a virtuous being who speaks to the virtue in oneself. How foreign such a concept to the children of the therapeutic culture! Today we do not look to see, much less affirm, our best selves in one another. To the contrary, it is the openness with which we admit to our emotional incapacities - the fear, the anger, the humiliation - that excites contemporary bonds of friendship. Nothing draws us closer to one another than the degree to which we face our deepest shame openly in one another's company... What we want is to feel known, warts and all: the more warts the better. It is the great illusion of our culture that what we confess to is who we are.
Vivian Gornick (The Odd Woman and the City: A Memoir)
I’ve watched it time and time again—a woman always slots into a man’s life better than he slots into hers. She will be the one who spends the most time at his flat, she will be the one who makes friends with all his friends and their girlfriends. She will be the one who sends his mother a bunch of flowers on her birthday. Women don’t like this rigmarole any more than men do, but they’re better at it—they just get on with it. This means that when a woman my age falls in love with a man, the list of priorities goes from this: Family Friends To this: Family Boyfriend Boyfriend’s family Boyfriend’s friends Girlfriends of the boyfriend’s friends Friends Which means, on average, you go from seeing your friend every weekend to once every six weekends. She becomes a baton and you’re the one at the very end of the track. You get your go for, say, your birthday or a brunch, then you have to pass her back round to the boyfriend to start the long, boring rotation again. These gaps in each other’s lives slowly but surely form a gap in the middle of your friendship. The love is still there, but the familiarity is not. Before you know it, you’re not living life together anymore. You’re living life separately with respective boyfriends then meeting up for dinner every six weekends to tell each other what living is like. I now understand why our mums cleaned the house before their best friend came round and asked them “What’s the news, then?” in a jolly, stilted way. I get how that happens. So don’t tell me when you move in with your boyfriend that nothing will change. There will be no road trip. The cycle works when it comes to holidays as well—I’ll get my buddy back for every sixth summer, unless she has a baby in which case I’ll get my road trip in eighteen years’ time. It never stops happening. Everything will change.
Dolly Alderton (Everything I Know About Love: A Memoir)
A DOZEN PHALLACIES WOMEN BUY Phallacy 1. If he love me, he'll be faithful forever. Truth His loving you has nothing to do with his being faithful. Some men are monogamous. Most aren't. The sexy ones usually aren't. Monogamy lasts three, days, three weeks, three months, or at best three years with most men. Often it lasts just about long enough to get you pregnant. Nature has a reason for this. Men are programmed to spread their seed as widely as possible and women to raise live, healthy babies. Human babies take a long time to grow up to self-sufficiency.... Some few paragons of maleness are faithful. Most others cheat. The question is: can you stand it? If the cheating is not blatant and disrespectful and you get a lot out of the relationship in other ways (a friend, a lover, a father to your kids, an economic partner), then consider these alternatives: you can accept his cheating gracefully, and at the same time extract emotional and financial benefits from his guilt. You can cheat discreetly yourself -- if (and only if) you enjoy it (not for spite). You can realize it has nothing to do with you. He does it for his manhood, not against your womanhood.
Erica Jong (Fear of Fifty: A Midlife Memoir)
In Sarajevo in 1992, while being shown around the starved, bombarded city by the incomparable John Burns, I experienced four near misses in all, three of them in the course of one day. I certainly thought that the Bosnian cause was worth fighting for and worth defending, but I could not take myself seriously enough to imagine that my own demise would have forwarded the cause. (I also discovered that a famous jaunty Churchillism had its limits: the old war-lover wrote in one of his more youthful reminiscences that there is nothing so exhilarating as being shot at without result. In my case, the experience of a whirring, whizzing horror just missing my ear was indeed briefly exciting, but on reflection made me want above all to get to the airport. Catching the plane out with a whole skin is the best part by far.) Or suppose I had been hit by that mortar that burst with an awful shriek so near to me, and turned into a Catherine wheel of body-parts and (even worse) body-ingredients? Once again, I was moved above all not by the thought that my death would 'count,' but that it would not count in the least.
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
That first day I asked my students what they thought fiction should accomplish, why one should bother to read fiction at all. It was an odd way to start, but I did succeed in getting their attention. I explained that we would in the course of the semester read and discuss many different authors, but that one thing these authors all had in common was their subversiveness. Some, like Gorky or Gold, were overtly subversive in their political aims; others, like Fitzgerald and Mark Twain, were in my opinion more subversive, if less obviously so. I told them we would come back to this term, because my understanding of it was somewhat different from its usual definition. I wrote on the board one of my favorite lines from the German thinker Theodor Adorno: “The highest form of morality is not to feel at home in one’s own home.” I explained that most great works of the imagination were meant to make you feel like a stranger in your own home. The best fiction always forced us to question what we took for granted. It questioned traditions and expectations when they seemed too immutable. I told my students I wanted them in their readings to consider in what ways these works unsettled them, made them a little uneasy, made them look around and consider the world, like Alice in Wonderland, through different eyes.
Azar Nafisi (Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books)
I resolutely refuse to believe that the state of Edward's health had anything to do with this, and I don't say this only because I was once later accused of attacking him 'on his deathbed.' He was entirely lucid to the end, and the positions he took were easily recognizable by me as extensions or outgrowths of views he had expressed (and also declined to express) in the past. Alas, it is true that he was closer to the end than anybody knew when the thirtieth anniversary reissue of his Orientalism was published, but his long-precarious condition would hardly argue for giving him a lenient review, let alone denying him one altogether, which would have been the only alternatives. In the introduction he wrote for the new edition, he generally declined the opportunity to answer his scholarly critics, and instead gave the recent American arrival in Baghdad as a grand example of 'Orientalism' in action. The looting and destruction of the exhibits in the Iraq National Museum had, he wrote, been a deliberate piece of United States vandalism, perpetrated in order to shear the Iraqi people of their cultural patrimony and demonstrate to them their new servitude. Even at a time when anything at all could be said and believed so long as it was sufficiently and hysterically anti-Bush, this could be described as exceptionally mendacious. So when the Atlantic invited me to review Edward's revised edition, I decided I'd suspect myself more if I declined than if I agreed, and I wrote what I felt I had to. Not long afterward, an Iraqi comrade sent me without comment an article Edward had contributed to a magazine in London that was published by a princeling of the Saudi royal family. In it, Edward quoted some sentences about the Iraq war that he off-handedly described as 'racist.' The sentences in question had been written by me. I felt myself assailed by a reaction that was at once hot-eyed and frigidly cold. He had cited the words without naming their author, and this I briefly thought could be construed as a friendly hesitance. Or as cowardice... I can never quite act the stern role of Mr. Darcy with any conviction, but privately I sometimes resolve that that's 'it' as it were. I didn't say anything to Edward but then, I never said anything to him again, either. I believe that one or two charges simply must retain their face value and not become debauched or devalued. 'Racist' is one such. It is an accusation that must either be made good upon, or fully retracted. I would not have as a friend somebody whom I suspected of that prejudice, and I decided to presume that Edward was honest and serious enough to feel the same way. I feel misery stealing over me again as I set this down: I wrote the best tribute I could manage when he died not long afterward (and there was no strain in that, as I was relieved to find), but I didn't go to, and wasn't invited to, his funeral.
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
Chris loved to look at every type of plant, animal, and bug he hadn’t seen before on the trail and point out those he did recognize. He enjoyed walking along small streams, listening to the water as it traveled, and searching for eddies where we could watch the minnows scurry amongst the rocks. On one Shenandoah trip, while we were resting at a waterfall, eating our chocolate-covered granola bars and watching the water pummel the rocks below, he said, “See, Carine ? That’s the purity of nature. It may be harsh in its honesty, but it never lies to you”. Chris seemed to be most comfortable outdoors, and the farther away from the typical surroundings and pace of our everyday lives the better. While it was unusual for a solid week to pass without my parents having an argument that sent them into a negative tailspin of destruction and despair, they never got into a fight of any consequence when we were on an extended family hike or camping trip. It seemed like everything became centered and peaceful when there was no choice but to make nature the focus. Our parents’ attention went to watching for blaze marks on trees ; staying on the correct trail ; doling out bug spray, granola bars, sandwiches, and candy bars at proper intervals ; and finding the best place to pitch the tent before nightfall. They taught us how to properly lace up our hiking boots and wear the righ socks to keep our feet healthy and reliable. They showed us which leaves were safe to use as toilet paper and which would surely make us miserable downtrail. We learned how to purify water for our canteens if we hadn’t found a safe spring and to be smart about conserving what clean water we had left. At night we would collect rocks to make a fire ring, dry wood to burn, and long twigs for roasting marshmallows for the s’more fixings Mom always carried in her pack. Dad would sing silly, non-sensical songs that made us laugh and tell us about the stars.
Carine McCandless (The Wild Truth: A Memoir)
On Turgenev: He knew from Lavrov that I was an enthusiastic admirer of his writings; and one day, as we were returning in a carriage from a visit to Antokolsky's studio, he asked me what I thought of Bazarov. I frankly replied, 'Bazaraov is an admirable painting of the nihilist, but one feels that you did not love him as mush as you did your other heroes.' 'On the contrary, I loved him, intensely loved him,' Turgenev replied, with an unexpected vigor. 'When we get home I will show you my diary, in which I have noted how I wept when I had ended the novel with Bazarov's death.' Turgenev certainly loved the intellectual aspect of Bazarov. He so identified himself with the nihilist philosophy of his hero that he even kept a diary in his name, appreciating the current events from Bazarov's point of view. But I think that he admired him more than he loved him. In a brilliant lecture on Hamlet and Don Quixote, he divided the history makers of mankind into two classes, represented by one or the other of these characters. 'Analysis first of all, and then egotism, and therefore no faith,--an egotist cannot even believe in himself:' so he characterized Hamlet. 'Therefore he is a skeptic, and never will achieve anything; while Don Quixote, who fights against windmills, and takes a barber's plate for the magic helmet of Mambrino (who of us has never made the same mistake?), is a leader of the masses, because the masses always follow those who, taking no heed of the sarcasms of the majority, or even of persecutions, march straight forward, keeping their eyes fixed upon a goal which is seen, perhaps, by no one but themselves. They search, they fall, but they rise again and find it,--and by right, too. Yet, although Hamlet is a skeptic, and disbelieves in Good, he does not disbelieve in Evil. He hates it; Evil and Deceit are his enemies; and his skepticism is not indifferentism, but only negation and doubt, which finally consume his will.' These thought of Turgenev give, I think, the true key for understanding his relations to his heroes. He himself and several of his best friends belonged more or less to the Hamlets. He loved Hamlet, and admired Don Quixote. So he admired also Bazarov. He represented his superiority admirably well, he understood the tragic character of his isolated position, but he could not surround him with that tender, poetical love which he bestowed as on a sick friend, when his heroes approached the Hamlet type. It would have been out of place.
Pyotr Kropotkin (Memoirs of a Revolutionist)