Last week, Wisdom House Books hosted a launch party for Bert Geiger’s memoir, Always in Fashion, about Geiger’s fifty years in the fashion industry. We held the party at Carolina Meadows retirement community, where our author is a resident. A lot of people, mostly other residents, came to hear Bert talk about his experiences and his book. Bert is ninety-five years old, and it took him twenty years to write his memoir. It was truly heart-warming to see him get so much support and appreciation for his work. Afterwards, Bert signed books for a solid hour and a half and chatted with the attendees.
I sat next to the signing table, so I overheard a lot of these conversations. I was immediately struck by how many people wanted to tell stories of their own. They wanted to make connections with Bert and relate to his stories on a personal level. For example, one woman reminisced about her days working in a New York boutique and wanted to know if her store had carried any of Bert’s clothing lines.
People naturally want to connect with one another. They want to share their stories and have stories shared with them in return. Memoir is an inherently personal genre, one that encourages its readers to talk about experiences that are important to them, things they may not otherwise be comfortable discussing. Perhaps that is the true power of memoir – that it causes readers to relive their own memories and relate to one another, not in some fictional universe, but here in the real world. The only thing that brings people together more than a good story is a good true story.
Many self- and indie-published authors get their start by writing memoirs. When they become serious about writing as a career path, the first stories they share are often their own. These authors then move on to publish other books that may contain grains of truth, but are rarely as raw and personal as those first books. Memoir is a gateway, a phase in every writers’ life. Memoir is a bridge, connecting strangers to one another, and allowing a writer to transition from an amateur’s world to the realm of a published, professional author. It is so much more than simply another genre.