Reading Matters

Conroy on memoir: A bargain you make with God and the devil

Lowcountry novelist Pat Conroy weighs in in a new book about memoir writing. “Why We Write about Ourselves: Twenty Memoirists on Why They Expose Themselves (and Others) in the Name of Literature,” edited by Meredith Maran.

The Washington Post recently quoted Conroy, author of “The Prince of Tides,” “The Great Santini” and three memoirs: “It’s always been the great taboo: hurting your parents, hurting your family, hurting your children.” But if he didn’t share everything with readers, Conroy decides, “I’d be a liar and an unfit witness for the family I’ve been writing about. . . . When it comes to memoir, I’ll always choose the writer over the person who suffers because of what’s written.” One of his sisters suffered, and their relationship was torn apart. “I suffered over that,” he confesses. “I suffer still. When you write memoir, that’s part of the bargain you make with God and the devil.”

Other memoirists included are Sue Monk Kidd, Anne Lamott, Edwidge Danticat, Cheryl Strayed and Edmund White.

To read the entire review: Never Have an Affair with a Memoirist