“Events Recounted in the Service of Ideas”

Quoted from the essayist Meghan Daum in a book review in the April edition of The Atlantic:

“I don’t confess in my work,” she says, “because to me that implies that you’re dumping all your guilt and sins on the page and asking the reader to forgive you.”  The label [confessional] can also imply a failure of craft.  “Confessions are not processed or analized,” she continues, “they’re told in a moment of desperation.”  Instead, Daum calls her personal revelations “events recounted in the service of ideas.”

Photo by Derk Jager

Photo by Derk Jager

About SSH

Philadelphia native and graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell, Shaw Homer has lived in Costa Rica for over 30 years, where she has taught languages and worked for environmental NGOs. In addition to writing for the local press, her fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry have appeared in both print and on-line literary and travel journals, as well as on her blog, writingfromtheheart.net. Her travel memoir, Letters from the Pacific, received excellent Kirkus and Publishers Weekly reviews. Her most recent book is Evelio’s Garden: Memoir of a Naturalist in Costa Rica. She and all her books can be found at www.sandrahomer.com.

4 thoughts on ““Events Recounted in the Service of Ideas”

  1. xxx sax com says:

    Keep on writing, great job!

  2. Katherine Masis says:

    Meghan Daum is way too harsh. Authors confess because they need catharsis, and catharsis works because it resonates with people. If it didn’t, would we have all these “tell-all” talk shows?

    • SSH says:

      I think Daum’s real point is that good memoir must go beyond the mere confessional and touch some universal truths for it to be real literature. “Tell-all” talk shows may provide catharsis and get half the audience weeping, but good literature — fiction or memoir — seeks to explore the human condition in a more profound and thought-provoking way.

  3. Coral Jewell says:

    I really like the phrase ‘events recounted’
    Soon I will have time to read your fascinating blog.
    And will comment on your story Bedroom..Sadness.

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