Why Do We Need Memoirs?

This article is more than 21 years old.

Over the past ten years the neglected literary form of the memoir has come to the fore, with both professional writers and non-professionals recalling the past in order to help all of us understand better the context of our times. These works fill the gaps between dates and trends and demographics and economics not with data but with personal reflections in the form of stories. On this week's show, we spoke with two such memorialists: Celia Morris, author of "Finding Celia's Place" and Esther Kahn, author of "As I Remember It."

Writer Celia Morris's first husband was the prominent Harper's Magazine editor and writer, the late Willie Morris. In her book "Finding Celia's Place" Morris chronicles life in the world of letters from Texas to New York to Washington from the perspective of a young woman growing up and living in the midst of the modern women's movement from its beginnings up to the present.

In "As I Remember It," a memoir which she wrote and published on her own, teacher and philanthropist Esther Khan tells the story of a near-century of living. Her purpose for writing a memoir is perhaps more immediately personal: to memorialize her late husband Albert who encouraged her to go back to school, to work and do more with her life. Her book also tells the multigenerational story of three families, immigrant and established, whose lives become intertwined and thrive in Boston.

This program aired on August 26, 2001.


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