On Reading a Memoir
REVERE BEACH ELEGY: A memoir of Home and Beyond By Roland Merullo was sent to me by publisher Peter at PFP Publishing/First AJAR Contemporaries because I saw that it was being offered up on Merullo’s newsletter for review by bloggers. I made a request and within hours it was on my e-reader. Thank you so much
This is an autobiography in 10 essays and is not a straight story line about birth to present; I really liked this view and the highlights of his life shared in this style and with this kind of choppy movement. The Librarian/author Nancy Pearls tells us on National Public Radio to read a memoir while keeping in mind that much of our living is boring – mundane routine and we need to remember that memoirs are at least 20% fiction to keep us interested and connected to the telling.
I also keep in mind that when it is an autobiographic writing, then the other members of a family or friends will have witnessed a different perspective of the events, story and ideas. The author can choose to leave out details or arguments and has control over what is presented. What I so enjoyed about this read was that Merullo had such fine analysis linked to his thoughts at the time of the event and to his hindsight acquired wisdom, so that, the context of the story was indicative of something shared in his novels and other writing, but also what he gleaned and how that provided creative vision to his creativity.
There is an unsurpassed element of kindness in this book. The ability to share emotions and to use them is quite astute and surely should provide a model for how the rest of us might strive. The emotions are not ignored rather they are played out with fine tuning so the reader can truly identify and try them on for practice and future reference. One can witness how this tuning is played out in BREAKFAST WITH BUDDHA and LUNCH WITH BUDDHA where the feelings just seamlessly touch you – and one is left to say “YES” that is just how it feels to me.
Revere is the name of the city where Merullo lived and grew – The title was mistakenly read by me as a Dream or Thought process at first or even Paul Revere’s famous ride. I did not connect Beach to the name until I started reading and then I had to look it up on the map and laugh at myself for my mistake! I so enjoyed all the closeness of family and the connections, especially since that was not part of my life.
I wondered again why so many Catholic kids grow up and embrace Buddhism? Is it just because of all the Rock Stars who went to India or found a guru? In this case, I think it is because it better represents the inner strength of the author and how he manifests his spirit; lots of Italian energy and food included in the present tense.
One of the essays is about how he, his wife, and infant daughter, just gathered up his mother and took her to Italy to live for a short period of time. Not just a tourist visit, but a real move in and connect experience. He knew how to achieve that from his work in Russia and his Peace Corp experiences.
I want to be more myself, my core self, when I read Merullo’s stories. They inspire me not to imitate his experiences but to look to more meaningful experiences to undertake and enjoy. All my analysis of living going on inside my head has a purpose and it is reassuring that my ability to integrate ideas and feelings is shared by someone else. Roland Merullo has found a way to express them and let them fly free and not just ruminate within the psyche.
When I read a memoir, I work at being kind and non-judgmental. I seek to find the positive and the opportunity which came from this telling. This writer has shared the details and formed from this experience and now I can benefit from knowing and understanding. I do not need to try and repeat. The pleasure is mine in the reading.
Have you ever thought of sharing a memoir of your life experiences? Would you want to publish them? Would you stick with fiction?
I did receive a copy of this book from PFP Publishing/First AJAR Contemporaries.