Closing the covers on a tale of epic proportion is merely a transition on my path of savoring a book. I may spend weeks gnawing on the bones of that book, reliving favorite scenes and savoring the way the details come together. Shorter stories may provide welcome diversion and profound insights, but seldom stick with me as long.
Michel Sauret’s memoir, Child, Hold Me, is an exception. I found the book after following a link to”How Much Does It Cost to Publish a Book?” on Sauret’s meaty blog. A blurb for the book piqued my interest:
From International Book Awards winning author Michel Sauret, “Child, Hold Me,” is a short memoir about losing a child in the womb, told through a man's perspective.
What? A man has written a memoir about miscarriage? Wow! This was new territory for me. I read on and learned that Sauret and his girlfriend were still in college and … the frank confessions in that blurb stunned me. I clicked the link to Amazon.
For less than the cost of a cappuccino, the story flowed onto my iPad, and I dug in right away. Captivated by phrases as rich as the insights they convey, I read straight to the end. Sauret writes with his heart wide open. I’m reminded of the phrase attributed to an army of authors,
Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed onto the page.
Sauret’s literary blood and gutsy writing flowed straight into my heart in little longer than the time required for a physical transfusion. This memoir is short – 88 pages according to Amazon (it’s not available in print) – but lacking in nothing, and it packs a powerful punch. I’ll be chewing on this bone for weeks to come. Some of the points I’ll ponder:
Reading memoir by diverse authors broadens my insight into the human condition. I’d never stopped to think how losing an unborn child might affect a man. Suaret’s frank disclosures jolted me to attention and broadened my point of view. I never intended to limit my perspective of difficulties conceiving and carrying a child to term as strictly a woman’s concern, but I realize now I pretty much did.
What other blinders do I unwittingly wear? I shall keep reading and learn, taking them off, one-by-one.
Self-disclosure builds bonds of trust between writer and reader. Daring to disclose personal truth on the page, especially raw confessions such as Sauret makes, opens portals between people. They crack shells of indifference and preoccupation. They remind us there are people out there. People who live and breathe and bleed when they’re hurt. They snap our little lives into perspective. They breed compassion.
Longer isn’t always better. Sauret writes his tale tersely, within a small space. Yes, I was left hungry for some additional details, but he covered the essential points. In retrospect I realize that the details I hungered for are primarily trivia that’s fun to read at the time, but seldom stored in long-term memory. He stuck to the bones with just enough muscle to make them move. I read the story in two hours, but will ponder it as long as if it took two weeks.
Story transcends boundaries of gender, race, time and place. Saueret’s story reminds me that men can move beyond macho to cry, feel compassion and unbounded love. Ian Mathie’s African Memoir series reminds me that purportedly primitive people are wise in ways we may fail to fathom. Jerry Waxler’s Memoir Revolution thoroughly explores the world of ways memoir enriches lives.
The advent of digital publishing opens the opportunity to publish a collection of mini-memoirs, much like literary Lego blocks, allowing readers to pic and choose, linking them in a variety of ways. We are freed from the pressure to crank out 75,000 words to make our story worthwhile. Hooray for that!
Write now: think of a major turning point in your life. Outline the elements, including lessons learned, and consider ways of converting that experience into a mini-memoir, writing the bones, with enough muscle to make them move. Share your thoughts about writing in smaller scale. in a comment. Is this liberating? Disappointing?