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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
AUG
22

Virtues of the Novel

It's no secret that I'm a non-fiction girl. Memoir, specifically. I get annoyed by good, fascinating novels when I think about the fact that it's all made up and didn't actually happen. For me, it's much more satisfying to read about something that actually happened. More than that, something written by the person it happened to (as opposed to a biographer or historian). There's just no comparison to real life, and the fascinating, heartbreaking, and triumphant situations we get ourselves into.

That being said, in my regular line-up of exclusively memoirs, I usually read one novel per year. To change it up, really, and because there's usually some novel that enough people have recommended that I feel like I ought to read. This year's novel is A Gentleman in Moscow, which I swear I've been hearing about for years. It's been on my radar, and when my sweet Mom recently gifted me a copy, I felt I couldn't put it off any longer.

Here's the thing with novels that I always forget because I read them so infrequently. THEY ARE SO DECRIPTIVE. It's like a whole different world of lush language and description. This one in particular is filled to the brim (500 pages is VERY long for me) with descriptions of every single detail of the hotel where the story takes place. I forgot how all this description creates visuals of the setting and story in your mind, really without you even trying or actively envisioning it. It just happens. This is something you don't often get with memoir, in that much of the book is the author's thoughts, and the stories are much more succinct and measured. There simply isn't the opportunity to picture an entirely new setting in your mind and feel completely transported each time you open the book.

I still prefer memoir, and I probably always will, but there's certainly a place for the well-written, all-encompassing novel, and this one is a true gem.

AUG
02

Imagination

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I was talking the other day with my six-year-old nephew about a humorous card I had mailed to his house--one that featured a cat poop joke--and told him that Clementine (my cat) had liked it, too. There was a pause, followed by a thoughtful question. "When you say Clementine liked it, you don't actually mean that you know if she liked it, right?" I assured him that, no, I didn't actually know what she thought, but that I sometimes like to imagine the kinds of things that a cat might think or like. "I don't imagine very much," replied my nephew. "I'm just not that kind of person," he continued, and further explained that this is why he prefers reading books with facts in them.

Now, you'll never convince me that any six-year-old kid out there has no imagination. And I've seen this particular kid use imagination all the time--in the games he invents or the silly words he makes up. But I get what he's saying, I respect it, and, more than that, I respect that even at such a young age he recognizes this in himself. He just prefers reality. And thinking about things as they really are.

I'm a non-fiction girl myself, in that most novels leave me feeling mildly frustrated, wholly unbettered, and filled with a desperate sensation of just-let-me-read-about-something-that-really-happened. I had always planned on writing fiction, but that's not the way my mind works. Fiction is clearly the ticket in the publishing world. And if I could think up a futuristic trilogy involving an oddly-named, kick-ass heroine, I'd probably be a lot more profitable as an author than I am now. Or at least have the chance to be. I suppose in many ways I feel like my nephew in this regard, in that I don't have much of an imagination when it comes to writing. I'm just not that kind of person. Luckily there are those who are, and luckily there is still space for everyman memoirists like me. Granted, there's a lot less space for everyman memoirists, but I'll take those odds. And who knows. Maybe one day you'll see that I've broken through with a series involving a vampire going off to 7 years of vampire school (Batty Cotter?). But doubtful. I really, really am just not that kind of person.

JAN
09

The Nonfiction Writer's Wish

I'm just about 2/3 done with my second book. Which feels like progress. And it is. But I'm finding this last 1/3 to be much harder to write than the first 1/3. And while my first book was chronological, this one is not, so it's more challenging to make sure I'm pulling in everything. Finalizing order is a whole different topic, but I won't worry about that until all the content is written. Or maybe that's my problem. That I don't at this point even know the order of things. Either way, the thing I keep saying to myself is this: I wish I could write fiction. Fiction is the ticket. Fiction is so the ticket. But try as I might, my brain doesn't think that way. Dammit.