Blog # 83: Matremoirs and Patremoirs are Everywhere

Updated List of Patremoirs

Updated List of Matremoirs

The more you look for something, the more you find it. I remember discovering wild flowers when I was twenty two, living in Victoria. Dodecatheon hendersonii, armeria maritima, zigadenus venenosus…there wasn’t a day when I wasn’t thrilled to discover a new flower. Growing up, the flowers had been all around me, yet until I started looking for them I had never noticed them.

The same is true of matremoirs and patremoirs. They’ve been all around me–for the last thirty years, at any rate–but to notice them I had to become aware of them. Now I find them everywhere. Today’s discoveries come courtesy of Richard Ford. In his acknowledgment to Canada, he writes: “A constant charm and resource in my revisions was Blake Morrison’s superb memoir And When Did You Last See Your Father?” The second I read the comment, I understood why Ford’s Bev Parson’s had seemed so real and so familiar. One father leads to another. Part of Bev Parson’s was informed by Blake’s version of his father, the charming yet flawed Dr. Arthur Morrison.

Googling Morrison to refresh my memory, I stumble across yet more patremoir and memoir material in a Guardian article by Tim Lott. Lott mentions Ian Jack, “who started the whole modern memoir movement with a brilliant essay about his father, ‘Finished With Engines’ in 1986.” Lott exaggerates a lot. Ian Jack certainly did not start the whole modern memoir movement, yet his father essay may indeed have contributed to the patremoir boom. I will have to look it up in Granta, and maybe I’ll add it to a future edition of Fathers: A Literary Anthology. Another book I now have to look up is Lott’s matremoir, The Scent of Dried Roses.

Matremoirs and Patremoirs are everywhere.

Matremoir Addendum Addition

Lott, Tim. The Scent of Dried Roses (1997)

Patremoir Addendum Addition

Barnett, Bonnie. Bobo’s Daughter: One Woman’s Journey to Find Hope, Healing, and the Father Behind the Face Paint (2010)

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