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Speculative Memoirs: Say What?!

My author friend, Annalisa Crawford, recently asked about the definition of “speculative memoirs.”

I love such questions, because they cause me to learn something new.

In general, memoirs are the recounting of people’s internal journeys in which they face ever-increasing challenges until experiencing an epiphany that changes their perspective on life. That’s as opposed to an autobiography where people recount what happened in their lives, typically in chronological order.

Speculative memoirs are when authors use creative ways to convey those journeys.

Laraine Herring provides a great definition on Brevity Journal’s Nonfiction Blog. “Speculative memoir is an umbrella genre in which the questions of the memoirist’s book are addressed through speculative elements, which may include ghosts, metaphors, what-ifs, imaginative scenarios, and fantasies. It is memoir focused more on the possibilities of the internal world than the facts of the external world.”

Here are examples of speculative memoirs recommendations by The Rumpus book site:

  • Monster Portraits by Sofia and Del Samatar: Sophie tells her story as though inhabited various monsters her brother, Del, then illustrated.

  • Low Country by J. Nicole Jones: “Weaving the ghost stories of South Carolina low country where Jones was raised with the complicated stories of her family, Jones creates a tapestry where one story layers onto another, each one revealed as intimately connected to the other.”

I also loved A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. He was a college senior who “in the space of five weeks, loses both of his parents to cancer and inherits his eight-year-old brother.” He creates a lot of very inventive, and often hilarious, scenes.

What speculative fiction have you read and can recommend, if any?


For updates about Martha’s books, news and giveaways, check out her website.

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