For the memoirists

Last night I finished reading Ann Patchett’s memoir Truth and Beauty, about her long friendship with Lucy Grealy, author of Autobiography of a Face.

During her book tour, a fan asked Grealy about the process of writing about her childhood battle with cancer:

“It’s amazing how you remember everything so clearly…All those conversations, details, were you ever worried you might get something wrong?”

“I didn’t remember it,” Lucy said pointedly. “I wrote it. I’m a writer.”

This shocked the audience more than her dismissal of illness, but she made her point: she was making art, not documenting an event. That she chose to tell her own story was of secondary importance. Her cancer and subsequent suffering had not made this book. She had made it. Her intellect and ability were in every sense larger than the disease.