Not too long ago I received a review copy of The View from Brindley Mountain, A Memoir of the Rural South. I was anxious to read it for a lot of reasons.
First, because I have been reading a lot of memoirs lately to get a feel for how they are written as I work on mine. Secondly, because I love stories of the rural south. For some time now I have been reading some of the wonderful essays on a blog called The Dew and some of the writing is so eloquent it makes me stop and read a piece one more time.
When I saw the request for reviews by C. Eugene Scruggs, the author of The View From Brindly Mountain, I thought maybe his work would have some of that same southern charm.
I was disappointed.
Don’t get me wrong, the book has some good writing. The preface and prologue are engaging and read like a true memoir. However, as the book progresses, it turns into more of a history reference book than a memoir. There are lots of facts, some of them quite interesting if you are a history buff, but there is never enough of what these facts mean to the author or how they affected his life. Nor is there an overall theme that most memoirs usually have.
The reader is never really pulled into the scenes that Scruggs is relating. Rather, the reader stands outside looking in as Scruggs writes about what happened. How different from some engaging memoirs like Inklings by Jeffery Koterba and Eat, Pray and Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.
What about you? What kind of memoirs do you like to read? What makes a memoir work?