Life Story Links: August 13, 2019
“…being your own story means you can always choose the tone. It also means that you can invent the language to say who you are and what you mean…. From my point of view, which is that of a storyteller, I see your life as already artful, waiting, just waiting and ready for you to make it art."
—Toni Morrison, “Be Your Own Story,” Wellesley College commencement speech, 2004
Stories of Us
“Rama watched as his mother dug a hole under their small wooden hut just large enough for the bag of photos. He didn’t ask questions as she hid the traces of their middle-class life under a pile of banana leaves.” The unique journey of one family’s story of survival under the Khmer Rouge, Buried.
“By losing my relationship to Cantonese, what have I lost in my relationship with my parents?” Faced with the possibility of losing of her mother, Melissa Hung contemplates another loss—of her mother tongue.
SHARED HISTORIES AND DEFINING STRUGGLES
“We have history books that talk about wealthy politicians who were generally male, and generally white patricians, but we have all these other stories and we’re acknowledging their importance. The story is shifting to show that we all have something to add to the pot,” Thomas Allen Harris says in an interview about the premiere of Family Pictures USA on PBS.
ON MOM’S BOOKSHELVES
“I held those books so many times, their authors and titles were imprinted in my mind before I ever knew their importance,” Angelique Stevens writes in “The Books That Bear the Weight of the Living.”
REMEMBERING PRIMO LEVI
The Holocaust writer, born 100 years ago, managed to survive Auschwitz by chance. The Italian Jewish chemist then went on to write invaluable autobiographical accounts of life in the Nazi concentration camps and of displaced people after World War II. Through quotes and thoughtful analysis, one historian ponders the questions Levi’s writing continues to present us with.
How & Why We Share
TRANSCRIPTION HELP NEEDED
The Library of Congress is looking for volunteer assistants to transcribe 16,000 documents from suffragists—would you like to help? If you prefer to type the words of What Whitman, Susan B. Anthony, or Civil War soldiers, browse their other crowdsource campaigns.
MASTER INTERVIEWER, INTERVIEWED
“I still structure my interviews by trying to get people to lay out plot, beat by beat, even if the stories are very small.” Ira Glass on narrative storytelling and who he would prefer not to interview.
“The process of bringing coherence to one’s life story is what psychologist Dan McAdams calls creating a ‘narrative identity.’ People get better at identifying important life themes as they age, and those who are able to find the positive amid the negative are generally more satisfied with life,” Dhruv Khullar, M.D., writes in this exploration of what really matters to patients nearing end of life.
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY
“[I] dare you not to be moved when you meet your ancestors!” Texas–based Allison Peacock of Family History Detectives writes in this piece on the traumas—and delights—that are often discovered as part of the genealogical journey.
...and a Few More Links
Finding connection at Ellis Island through a bit of Armenian graffiti
I combined all the free resources offered by Modern Heirloom Books in one handy toolkit. What other advice would you like to see added?
Brandon Shimoda on seeking ancestral connections through photos of his grandfather in a Japanese internment camp
From email to precious photos: passing on your digital assets
The benefits of dipping into the blog archives of Denis Ledoux’s The Memoir Network
Registration is open for the ASJA 2019 DC Writers Conference, with sessions on essay writing, the art of the interview, and marketing through podcasts.
Entrepreneur spotlight: Kinetic Legacy
Join the free virtual bookclub from the National Association of Memoir Writers this Thursday, August 15: a conversation with Beth Ricanati, author of Braided: A Journey of a Thousand Challahs.