The only memoirs that I really enjoy are either done in comics or super trashy forgotten-star tales. However, a rash of recent books by authors I love have made me much more curious about the genre. Over at The Rumpus, I read this interview of a writer I've never heard of because the lede mentioned The Nervous Breakdown, a site two of my friends have written for. Though they've both jumped ship for other projects I have a fondness for a site that supported those great ladies. I really want to read the book that this interview is about, The Rules of Inheritance, especially if the writing is as straightforward and compassionate as Smith's interview answers.
The Sunday Rumpus Interview with Claire Bidwell Smith had me blistering in recognition as Smith talks about grieving and the struggle to believe in the future: "Ultimately, I think I became a very independent person. I found a
confidence and a brassiness that wasn’t shared by a lot of my peers. But
on the flip side I also tend towards self-indulgence. Basing every
decision on fuck-it-we-could-die-tomorrow-let’s-do-the-fun-thing isn’t a
practical way to live." Getting out that mentality enough to make good decisions about, for instance, retirement savings is very tricky.
She says, "For a long time, and perhaps even now, I had trouble relating to people
on a surface level. I couldn’t bring myself to chit-chat, to talk about
trivial things. Perhaps it was a self-centered and juvenile thing, but I
couldn’t let people know me unless they knew who I really was
and what I was going through. But living in this kind of raw, authentic
way caused a lot of people around me to open up as well... I also think I have a kind of magnetism
for damaged people, or people who have been through big life
experiences." For me, that inability to relate on a superficial level after my brother's death, something I am also slowly re-learning how to do, was a reaction to the the overwhelming isolation I felt as well as the major shift in my priorities, especially in my relationships. Who cares about the weather when the world has ended? Let's love each other! (Or never talk to one another again!) It is simply a lot easier to talk to someone who has experienced loss and knows that hole you feel, especially at 23, when most people's main concerns involve terrible boyfriends and making rent. I also discovered, much like Smith, that being a walking example of mortality either makes people run away or tell you everything. Sometimes they do both.
The interview also covers terrible marketing strategies and living in Los Angeles versus Chicago. Pretty interesting stuff.