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Memoir Genre Alive And Still Kickin’, Despite “the legacy of James Frey still lingering”

from Fameology

Despite Little Chance of Commercial Success, Average People Still Want to Write Memoir

With the memoir boom of the 1990s over and the legacy of James Frey still lingering, why are memoir writing classes so popular?

By April Rueb

BookCourt, a charming bookstore in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, is usually a calm oasis for browsing and relaxing. But on this warm Wednesday night in March, about 20 women and five men sit anxiously in folding chairs. Young and old, black and white, college-educated and not, these people are all here for the same reason: to learn how to write a memoir.

This night BookCourt is hosting a free memoir writing workshop with the Gotham Writers’ Workshop. Taught by Melissa Febos, 29, a teacher, writer and author of the just-released memoir, “Whip Smart,” the class is meant to be a quick introduction on memoir writing, a little taste of what the Gotham Writers’ Workshop offers for almost $400 in a 10-week program. Febos begins the class with an assignment: write your life story in five sentences, in five minutes.

She calls time and hands shoot up. Febos asks a young woman to share what she wrote. The girl tells the class that she was raised in the Chinatown ghetto of Boston, a bilingual nurse chose her English name and that despite leaving China, her parents return often to visit. Febos gives another assignment: write your life story in five completely different sentences. A young man with a thick New York accent says he was born in the Bronx, raised by an Irish mother and a drunken father. The class quickly turns into a competition, each person trying to outdo the last with his tales of hardship.

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Posted on May 3, 2010 by Editor

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