Magic Underwear…save me from this book! Okay, maybe Elna Baker’s, The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance, A Memoir, wasn’t that bad. The title was great, but then things quickly fizzled from there — perhaps, much like this article is about to do.
I’m still trying to figure out Baker’s book and its intended audience — we’ll see if there’s more to say after my book club of twelve suburbanite Catholic women have properly dissected it. However, there’s one thing that deserves mentioning now — the author’s age.
Got ID to write this book?
Elna Baker was only in her early/mid-20’s when she started writing this book. Here’s the question: Could someone that young possess the experience and know-how to write a meaningful memoir — a piece of work typically laden with responsibility? A reader expects a memoir not only to relate certain life events with accuracy, but also for such events to be reflected on with an amount of maturity and authority. I have to believe that a memoir written at the age of thirty-five (or forty-five and beyond) would be completely different from one written at twenty-five (even if portraying the exact same events).
There is no doubt that talented writers come in all ages — young reporters, editors, essayists. And, in the category of young novelists…look at The Outsiders, written by S.E. Hinton when she was sixteen, or the success of the Eragon series. However, fiction is a genre with different expectations — where you can portray a world made of tin foil if you wanted, and, if written convincingly, could be deemed a masterpiece!
The memoir is a little different — that unspoken agreement of trust between author and reader can be a little harder to come by. Still, Augusten Burroughs was only in his early 30’s when he published Running with Scissors to much acclaim, and there have been many others. Is it a combination of the writer, the story, and the audience that equates success? And, do you really need to have a lived a little more to reflect a whole lot? Maybe not.
(By the way, “Magic Underwear” is a reference to the sacred Mormon garments that are briefly mentioned in Baker’s book — it’s also a shout-out to my cousins’ favorite holiday attire, but that’s another story.)