Life Story Links: January 29, 2019
“If you’ve remembered something very well—a fight, a kiss, a plane ride, a certain stranger— there’s a reason. Keep writing until you figure out the significance of your most vivid memories.”
In Their Own Words
FIGHTING FOR HER FATHER
Short autobiographical writing at its best: beautiful, poignant, familiar…and utterly specific. Read award-winning author and memoir teacher Beth Kephart’s recent piece for Catapult, “Here If You Need Me.”
DANI SHAPIRO, AGAIN
“It turns out it is possible to live an entire life—even an examined life, to the degree that I had relentlessly examined mine—and still not know the truth of oneself,” Dani Shapiro writes in her fifth and latest memoir, Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love. Listen to her talk to Diane Rehm about how a DNA test uncovered a life-altering secret, and read about her identity-exploring journey here.
DRIVING THROUGH HIS DUTCH HERITAGE
Bruce Summers, Washington, DC–area personal historian at Summoose Tales, digs into his family roots by traveling in the footsteps of his third-great-grandfather.
LAST ONES STANDING
Canadian Eric Brunt has been traveling across Canada in a small van since May 2018. His goal: To interview as many surviving WWII veterans as possible for a documentary, Last Ones Standing. Follow his Instagram account for regular updates from the road, and consider contributing on his GoFundMe page to help underwrite this worthy endeavor.
Your Stories, Your Way
From sharing food memories to creating a travel journal, from chronicling a life well lived to bringing a longtime family vacation home to life, here are six specific ideas for life story books.
STORY SHARING APPS
If you and your family members are more inclined to take action with tech tools as opposed to pen and paper to preserve your memories, here are my top picks for digital story sharing services.
FROM FAMILY LETTERS TO MULTIGENERATIONAL EPIC
New York–based Remarkable Life Memoirs shares an “exit interview” with writer Michael Barrie, with whom they worked on the recently completed book, How We Got Here: The Barrie Family in America, which spans centuries and continents to tell the complex story of his forebears.
History, Both Personal & Global
BEYOND MLK’S LEGACY
Des Moines–based writer Larry Lehmer rounds up five stories related to black heritage, personal history, and memoir that he found to be most compelling last week.
COMMISSIONING FAMILY HISTORY RESEARCH
“I don’t feel my parents did a very good job of explaining my family history to me,” WebMD founder Jeff Arnold tells a New York Times reporter in a piece looking at generationally wealthy families documenting their past. “I have four children, so explaining to them their roots was an important box I wanted to check.”
ARCHIVISTS AS ACTIVISTS
One clandestine group in the Warsaw Ghetto vowed to defeat Nazi lies and propaganda not with guns or fists but with pen and paper. And they did. Their story is told in the documentary Who Will Write Our History. Read a review of this “vital and sobering” film, and see why some are critical of the re-stagings that bring (unnecessary?) added drama to the testimony.
...and a Few More Links
Self-proclaimed “Old Coots” offer life advice at farmers market
How photography became the ‘dominant form of recording the world’
John McPhee’s new book, The Patch, has been called “a covert memoir.”
Consider studying Reminiscence & Life Review in this online course from University of Wisconsin Superior.
Dip into stories of survivors in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Learn about James Michael’s new book, Tell Your Story and Save the World.
Discover the meaning and history behind your last name.