Andre Aciman on Memoir and Memory

Andre Aciman on Memoir and Memory

Writer Andre Aciman says a good memoir can capture emotional truth even when certain historical details are fictionalized.
He describes the art of the memoir, and how writers draw on their memories to conjure up literary worlds.

When you’ve lost something that you believe is important, you always revisit that loss.
You tend to look back more than you look forward because you are always trying to recreate the narrative that brought you here, you’re trying to understand, you know, “What is this trajectory?
What is the itinerary that brought you to where you are today?” Not to have that, is to feel completely lost.

You long for something that was in the past, that was very important, and then you spend your whole life trying to recover it.
Most people have that when it comes to their childhood, even if it was a bad childhood, they long to recover lost footsteps.

if you’re in a place… let’s say you’re in jail and you don’t like the jail and every day in jail you kept thinking of places outside the jail that you’ve never even visited but you imagine them… well guess what… you’ll have memories of those places that you never visited and wished.
So, wishes have a long history and most people cannot tell a wish from an actual event in the past, because they get conflated.

If there is one writer who seems to hover over own writing, it would be Proust

I think that the ultimate trick of literature is to tell you a story that you never heard but is your story.