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Author Archive: "Sue William Silverman"

The Confessions of My Generation

When St. Augustine penned his Confessions, he did so to put his past behind him. For many of us writing today, however, confession is more of a way to understand, embrace, and synthesize the past.

While the genre never went totally underground between, well, 398 A.D. and the early 1990s, memoir was more a form reserved for the famous — and famous men, at that. When I studied for my MFA degree back in the late 1980s, for example, students had two choices: to write poetry or fiction.

Why the absence of memoir back then? Why the explosion of it now?

The answer, I think, is cultural. Pre-Oprah, after all, children were to be seen and not heard, while women and those considered "other" were, generally, to be neither seen nor heard — at least not in their true light. The tacit message? Don't tell family secrets.

Then, ironically, even during the freedom of my generation's hippie era, the idea of the individual self was also abnegated — to the commonality ...

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