Tag Archives: Coming-Of-Age Narrative

All the Stories That We (Were) Told

By Nora Benitt

Pixar’s Rules of Sto­ry­telling by Pro­found Whatever

Life writ­ing – which includes a wide spec­trum of sub-gen­res such as (auto)biography, mem­oir, let­ter, diary, (dig­i­tal) life sto­ries, and oral his­to­ries – has a long tra­di­tion in the U.S. and is becom­ing more and more pop­u­lar all over the world. An abun­dance of arti­facts com­piled by famous, semi-famous, and not-at-all-famous peo­ple fill pub­lic libraries, pri­vate book­shelves, research cen­ters, social media, hard dri­ves, and web­sites. And that’s actu­al­ly not even sur­pris­ing since writ­ing and/or talk­ing about our­selves is a deeply root­ed cul­tur­al prac­tice and comes very nat­u­ral­ly to most human beings. We do it all the time: We tell a sig­nif­i­cant some­one how our day was, we put togeth­er our résumé when apply­ing for a new job, we talk about child­hood mem­o­ries with sib­lings or a close friend. How­ev­er, talk­ing and writ­ing about our­selves in an aca­d­e­m­ic con­text and, to boot, in a for­eign lan­guage is a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent story.

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Ira Wagler’s Serial Memoir Broken Roads: Returning to My Amish Father

By Sabrina Völz

I know the mon­sters that lurk in the recess­es of the mind and in

the dark cor­ners of the heart. I know, because I deal with my own demons

of what was and what might have been. I’ve heard those voic­es call­ing in the night.

I under­stand, because I poked my head through that door and looked around a bit.

And I got­ta say, it’s not a ter­ri­bly scary place. I wasn’t fright­ened there,

in that room where death is. I under­stand why peo­ple go there.

And I under­stand why peo­ple chose to stay there.

Ira Wagler, Bro­ken Roads, p. 187–188


Grow­ing Up Amish, Ira Wagler’s New York Times best­seller has sold some 185,000 copies since it first appeared in 2011. A writer whose first book makes that list has much to live up to. Some writ­ers nev­er make it past the first book, while oth­ers end up wish­ing they had only writ­ten one. And if I am hon­est, I have to admit that I was some­what con­cerned about what I would do if I didn’t like Ira Wagler’s new book. After all, he’s been to my uni­ver­si­ty twice, and over the years, I’ve got to know and appre­ci­ate him. The book is not quite what I had expect­ed, and it is tru­ly dif­fer­ent in a few key ways from his first publication.

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