In June 2010, Tobias Wong, a designer troubled by night terrors and sleep walking, hung himself. Writer Kathleen Frazier was deeply shaken. For twenty years, she too suffered from sleep walking and night terrors. One night, Frazier awoke to find herself beside a seventh-story window. She began a recovery process that liberated her from this disabling and dangerous parasomnia that effects two to three percent of adults.
Frazier, reading from her memoir-in-progress in January, 2011 at Cornelia Cafe in New York, said she vowed to write about her malady and recovery so others know they can be healed.
Motives for memoir can be complex. Some, like Frazier, share their own story so others need not suffer alone. Speaking with the same humor with which she writes, memoir writer Mary Karr said she wrote because she had no other choice. "What else was I going to be [besides a writer]," she asked. "A titty dancer?"
Karr spoke at the New Yorker Festival’s “The Parent Trap: Philip Gourevitch with Mary Karr and Tobias Wolff,” on October 1, 2010 in New York. Yet she too offers a message of hope. For me, reading Lit was like going through alcoholism recovery with Harvard professors as one's guides.
Tobias Wolff said that writing This Boy’s Life, a memoir of his childhood in Newhalem and Concrete, Washington, provided “a tremendous lift, like you’re being born aloft.”