I don't read an abundance of memoirs. I am just really and truly a fiction girl, with some theology and Christian life reading thrown in for good measure. But occasionally I'll pick one up and enjoy it. This week I reviewed Trail of Crumbs which was excellent.
When I've read memoirs, I've never really had a problem with the memoirist, however, so I'm surprised when others point out how arrogant they sound. The first time this happened was when our late beloved Dewey answered questions about Educating Esme. I had read this book and felt inspired by it. It never really occurred to me that Esme was arrogant until Dewey pointed it out. I don't know that if I went back and read it I would find that to be true or not, I'd rather keep my positive impression of the book to be honest. (I just went and read the comments to see if I said anything at the time...I didn't. I did think Esme's comment was funny)
Anyway, perhaps because I didn't comment, it's remained an unresolved issue in my mind so when a comment came in this week on one of my glowing reviews of a memoir, it came to the surface again. The book was A Friend Like Henry by Nuala Gardner which I loved and wept during. I felt that book truly inspired and educated me. Here's what the commentor said:
I can honestly say this is the worst book I have ever read. The only redeeming part of the book is when Dale offered his own insights in just a few pages. The book should have been titled...Me, me and more about me. This was one of the most egotistical books I've read, and I've been reading for over 50 years. I highly recommend NOT reading this book.
I have to admit my initial reaction was...what?!? Then I thought, were they aware this is a memoir? (of which the first two letters spell ME). And finally, I tried to see it from their point of view. And I can...a little bit. After all, they were pretty awesome and persistent parents willing to do anything for their son. But no..in the end I can't really see it from their point of view. I was left to conclude they had some sort of personal vendetta against the actual people and decided to take it to my blog, the logical place to air such things. (I suspect this because the search term that led them to my blog was the name of the author and not the book)
But I wonder....I mean, in the case of Esme and Nuala, perhaps it's hard not to sound like you think you're great. Both of them faced quite a bit of adversity and overcame huge obstacles. Their stories are inspirational and triumphant. And their hard work, persistence, and belief in themselves played a big role in that. So when they write about it...well perhaps there's no way not to sound arrogant.
So how about all of you? Do you read memoirs? Have you ever found the memoirist arrogant? Have you ever read a memoir that you found you enjoyed but did not like the memoirist? (is that even a word, or have I made it up for this blog post?)