I love murder mysteries. Who doesn’t? They are easy reads and keep you guessing, trying to work out the killer. As much as I devour these quick reads, the genre that truly inspires me is MEMOIRS.

Genesh Bookshop is my go-to place in Ubud to hunt down pre-loved books. Every time I’m there, I check out their memoir section and return home with another inspirational read.

What is a memoir?

A memoir is a narrative, written from the perspective of the author, about an important part of their life. It is considered to be nonfiction. As opposed to an autobiography where the writer recounts their entire life story, a memoir focusses on a part of the writer’s life where events result in a significant change for the author.

Over the years, I’ve read hundred’s of memoirs. Each one has inspired me in some way. Below are six memoirs I found to be truly inspirational.

My memoir, Two Poofs and a Poodle was partially inspired by Finding Gobi and the novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.

Flying Free on Rainbow Wings is my memoir about quitting teaching and moving to Bali to paint and also come out of the closet. It was inspired by Thirty Thousand Bottle of Wine and a Pig Called Helga as well as other memoirs that recounted the author undergoing a tree change.

By the time I was 2.5 years old, I’d had three mothers. The first gave me up at birth, the second walked out on my father and was never seen again. The day she left, my father moved in with Eve and she became my third mother. The events of my early life left me scarred to some extent. I was fearful of desertion and not trusting in love. Of course this affected the rest of my life.

Three Mums – Six Years is the memoir that documents these early years. While many memoirs I’d read influenced the writing of this story, Not My Father’s Son was probably the most influential.

Here’s the first two chapters of Three Mums – Six Years.

1. Getting started.

So many memories, but I want just one.

I crack open the mess of recollections. Memories knot like a tangle of fishing line. My first day at Kindy, dropped off by my mother, I climbed the fence, escaped,

chased Mum, screaming, “Don’t leave me! You said you loved me.”

Bumped out of the way by the birth of a baby sister, I asked, “Mummy? Do you still

love me?”

  Perhaps my tiny white hand cradled in Yali’s large black one as he walks me to school in New Guinea. “Hurry up Small Master.” He always said this.

It’s a slow process unravelling, sorting and date stamping hundreds of memories, searching for that first one, the birth of my memory. I know there’s the buried one, the one I’ve managed to forget for a lifetime. The memory placed in my own Pandora’s box, it’s lid nailed closed. Best it stay there, but discontented, it rocks and sways. Ignore it. It’ll go back to sleep. It always does.

I turn every memory over and over, exploring it from all possible angles. Does it illuminate my story? Is it my memory alone, unsullied by the tales of family and friends?  Is it a supernova or a ten-watt bulb? But before I select the one, the lid on the box arches up, straining to open, the nails pop, one after another. That buried memory’s had enough. It’s coming out.

2. Watching Mummy.

One by one Mum removes the photos from the lounge room wall, wraps then in newspaper and shoves them into a cardboard box: Lynda, my four-year-old sister dressed in a white frilly dress, Mum and Dad on their wedding day, our grandparents at Christmas dinner, me in a sailor suit, just perfect for a two-year-old, and of course more sepia photos of her favourite toy Cocker Spaniels. All removed until the walls are bare. Bare like the rest of the house – memories deleted.

This morning we kissed Dad good-bye and stood on the porch as he left for work in his Holden sedan. The scent of his Poppy hair oil lingered as we watched his car purr down our suburban Ashgrove street and disappear around the corner.

Minutes later a moving van chugs to a halt in front of our driveway.

“Truck, big truck,” I yell.

“Come in,” Mum calls to the removalists.

“Get in the playpen,” she says to us and turns her attention to the men. “Take

everything and I’ll pack the boxes.”

The men wearing overalls start hauling everything out to the big black truck. The lounge suite, beds, cupboards, table, chairs, refrigerator, rolled up carpets, and dozens of hastily packed boxes, disappear as Lynda and I watch in wonder from our cage.

I start to cry.

“Shhh,” Mum says passing me a bottle of tepid milk. I raise my arms hoping to be picked up, cuddled and kissed, but she’s too busy. I suck in her lavender scent, so much better than the smell I was sitting on.

“Here’s an apple for you, Lynda. Eat it, don’t move and look after your brother.” She

returns to packing boxes.

“Don’t forget the washing machine,” she yells. “The Simpson’s in the laundry. Grab the pegs off the line too. Leave nothing.”

Full to empty in just four hours.

A car horn toots out the front.

“Grab the playpen. My sister wants it,” she instructs the movers.

Mum bends down and picks up the spaniels, puts a ball of fluff under each arm and walks out the door.

“What about the kids?” a packer asks.

“He wanted them, he can have them. Shut the door on your way out,” she calls, walking down the steps and into her new life.

The door closes. Lynda and I listen to the car drive away and then the truck after it. We’re left with silence and emptiness. Alone on the bare floor we reached for each other and cry, not daring to wonder if Dad will return from work.

Are you keen to write a memoir but unsure where to start?

This October, Dr Betty O’Neill and I are offering a writer’s retreat in Bali. We will help you get started with your writing project or facilitate you moving along with a project you are well into. See below if you want further information.

Interested? Click on the link below.

Do you have a favourite memoir? If so, please let me know.

Tags: , ,

5 thoughts on “WHAT BOOKS INSPIRE YOU?”

    1. Hi Carina, Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll get a copy of his first memoir “The End of Eddy” an

    2. Hi Carina, Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll get a copy of his first memoir “The End of Eddy” and read it. It sounds really interesting as do his other books. Regards, Steve.

  1. Victor Frankel…Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning
    (We alone, control our minds and our spirit)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe Blog & Newsletter

Enter name & email address below to subscribe to my blogs & newsletters