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It’s my life

Once authors used to write fiction. Now they are laying bare their intimate selves. Louise Kehoe, who has just written a book about her childhood, looks at the appeal of painfully revealing memoirs

By Louise Kehoe   October 1996

On both sides of the Atlantic, memoir, long considered fiction’s poor relation, is suddenly the genre of the moment. Everywhere you look there’s memoir. Of course there is nothing new in writers mining their own experience as raw material for their work. What is new, though, is the open admission-the boast, even-that such work is autobiographical.

Never, it seems, has the venerable injunction to write what you know been taken so literally, by so many. Bookshops are devoting whole sections to memoir-it is selling, after all, and briskly-and while once those shelves might have contained little but the gin-tinged reminiscences…

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