On the advice of a published author who reviewed my book proposal, I am digging up memoirs written by journalists. I’m a former journalist, see, so my writing style is, well, journalistic. Theoretically, an agent attracted to straightforward, well-researched writing in another journalist’s memoir might be attracted to mine.
I immediately thought of Mariane Pearl’s memoir of her husband’s abduction and execution, “A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband, Danny Pearl.” Danny Pearl was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan while reporting on terrorism for the Wall Street Journal. Heartbreakingly, Mariane Pearl was pregnant when her husband died. She effectively portrays her husband’s humanity in the face of awful inhumanity, and the book is a real page turner, even though you know how it turns out.
And I recently read “Falling Apart in One Piece: One Optimist’s Journey Through the Hell of Divorce” by Stacy Morrison, who was editor-in-chief of Redbook magazine when her husband of 10 years decided he was unhappy and wanted out. Morrison deftly and fairly handles the uncertainty of her milquetoast husband and her own feelings about her marriage and the child they shared. In the space of 239 pages, she makes it clear that nothing is clear. In my experience, divorce is murky like that. Pat answers — it was his fault, it was her fault — never really explain what really happened.
The published author with whom I consulted suggested I check out David Carr’s “The Night of the Gun: A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of His Life — His Own.” Apparently, Carr was a hopeless drug addict, and he had to piece together his past by retracing his steps. I understand his story is “riveting” but I can tell you his acknowledgements (and website) are less than revealing, at least of his agent’s name.
Then I googled “memoirs by journalists” and discovered Amazon has an entire category devoted to the genre: Nonfiction>Biographies & Memoirs>Professionals & Academics>Journalists. No. 1 is “Cheap Cabernet: A Friendship” by Cathie Beck. “A Mighty Heart” is No. 90. Interestingly, many of these offerings are e-books. Hmm.