Good memoirs are story-told

Published 9:44 am Monday, September 27, 2010

Angie Barker, Entertain Me

In this quasi-humble but constant reader’s opinion the key to an amazing memoir is storytelling. Crazy stuff happens to everyone, almost daily actually. These moments or non-moments can be made into an edge of your seat riveter in the right hands (No offense to the left-handers out there. I am sure they are capable storytellers as well.) The difference between us and people who get paid to talk about themselves is that they write it down. They take the time to narrate the event, mundane or supernatural, onto their medium of choice. Period. Well, actually more like comma, because there might be some talent involved.

Angie Barker

Once the event is told it must then be ‘story-told.’ Who wants to read fact after fact after fact? Oh, sorry biography fans. That was my bad. I’m down with facts. I just like mine with a fresh from the oven warmth instead of cold and hard. The authors I have chosen give their stories some tension and foreshadowing, a dash of rising action never hurts and they bake that tale for an hour at four hundred degrees of hilarious. Yummy.

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“How Did You Get This Number” by Sloane Crosley | This book is not so much a memoir as a collection of essays about Crosley’s life, similar to David Sedaris and just as entertaining. A few of the stories are so unbelievable you know they have to be true, like the bear cub that was hit by a drunk driver in Alaska or her kleptomaniac roommate or the hundreds of pets she owned while growing up in the suburbs. Her stories could be about your family, or your neighbors, or your co-worker across the hall that has no concept of personal space. Her tales are funny because they’re true.

“Suck it, Superwoman” by Olivia Munn | Munn is best known as the host of “Attack of the Show!” and has currently become a correspondent on “The Daily Show.” Her memoir is equal parts nerd love and hot chick swagger. The behind-the-scenes Hollywood stories are like eating a Gusher; the fruit snack with the juicy center. Just the tiniest bit juicy and probably only five percent actual fruit juice.

“A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love and Faith in Stages” by Kristin Chenoweth with Joni Rodgers | I first encountered Ms. Chenoweth on “Pushing Daisies” (R.I.P Piehole, you went too soon), discovered she was the original Galinda in “Wicked” on Broadway and have recently enjoyed her guest spots on “Glee.” She is genuine and may be the sweetest person in Hollywood, plus she has held onto her belief in God. This memoir was like eating chicken pot pie while snuggled under a warm blanket during a gentle rain.

Albert Lea resident Angie Zoller Barker’s column appears every Monday in the Albert Lea Tribune. Email questions, recommendations, or comments to