The Illness Memoir

I just finished reading Lauren Slater’s “Lying, A Metaphorical Memoir.” Her story about illness is pushing me to think about my own illness in a different light. Its made me want to think more about who I’m writing to (other women with diabetes, those who love them?), and why I’m writing about my illness (to understand my past, how illness changed me?).

In “Writing Creative Nonfiction,” Ms. Slater contributes a chapter called, “One Nation, Under the Weather” and writes about the audience and need for books about illness, “The illness memoir, after all, is not a prescription but a description, offered not to cure but to accompany.” She continues and says that an illness memoir, “if it is done deeply, will put its own signature on the transcendent tale….” Illness as the classic heroic journey, our fall and gradual redemption. “The illness memoir is so many things, a kindly attempt to keep company; a product of our culture’s love of pathology, or of our sometimes whorish selves; a story of human suffering and the attempts to make meaning within it; and finally, a reflection on this awful and absurd and somehow very funny truth, that we are rotting, rotting, even as we write.”

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