Thursday, September 22, 2011

Inside the Cover

When you get a new book and open it, do you look at the front matter or go directly to Chapter One? I hate to miss anything, so I read it all -- dedication, acknowledgements, author's note, preface, prologue, epigraph, what-have-you. Those parts seem like appetizers for the meal to come and they give me hints of the author's flavor, whether witty, serious, humorous, scholarly....

The epigraph I chose for Voluntary Nomads comes from one of my favorite writers:

"Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin."
~ Barbara Kingsolver ~

You expect a memoir to be truthful, of course. But if you've ever compared childhood memories with those of your siblings, you know that our individual memories revise the record of facts and events in some pretty interesting ways. I like what John Daniels, author of the memoir Looking After, said: "Memory, in short, is not a record of the past but an evolving myth of understanding the psyche spins from its engagement with the world."

Because memory is such a complicated thing, I included a disclaimer to accompany the Barbara Kingsolver epigraph at the beginning of Voluntary Nomads:

Author's Note

This book describes events and people in my life as I remember them. Descriptions of places, events, and people are as accurate as my memory. When I wanted to protect the privacy of certain individuals, I changed their names and made note of that in the narrative; the rest is my truth.

Tune in next week for a taste of "The New Beirut," an excerpt from Part One: New Mexico Genesis.


  1. Well said, Nancy!

  2. Thank you, Ellen. Discussions with you helped me clarify my thoughts about memory.