Read and loved Emily Fox Gordon's Mockingbird Years. But I take issue with the statement, noted in the NYT Book Review of her latest collection of essays, that there is an inherent dishonesty in memoir. Gordon may feel she was dishonest; but this statement by the reviewer seems fundamentally flawed:"The dishonesty inherent in memoir, [Gordon] argues, is that an entire life cannot be contained in one book, and so the writer is forced to follow only one story line." But that is, after all the point of memoir--to track a story line in a life.
Although frequently confused with it, memoir is not autobiography. Memoir aims to explore a theme, what the memoirist Vivian Gornick calls "the story"--one among possibly many--that form "the situation," which is an event or series of events in a life.
Gordon's reviewer, Alex Kuczynski, doesn't get it. I wonder if Gordon does? I thought so when I read Mockingbird Years. Will have to read this new book of her essays to help me decide.