Thorny one, this. When you read a memoir, do you assume that every word is 'true?' - and, if you do, do you assume that your truth and the writer's truth are the same thing?
Deep water, this. But, bearing in mind that everyone sees things differently, surely every memoir can only be the writer's recollections. Parents, siblings, friends, may have completely different memories. For instance, I loathed school; I am sure some of my contemporaries quite enjoyed themselves. Both views are equally valid.
But we now know that not all memoir-writers stick to the concept of personal validity, even make things up. For instance, Steinbeck did not spend every night in his green van when he drove round America with Charley; Chatwin may never have made it as far as Patagonia. Does this invalidate their books - both as works of literature, and in relation to their wobbly attention to truth?
And yes, it is relevant to my book. I trotted round the world, and have written about it. And - you'll just have to believe me here - I haven't made anything up. But I have been selective in what I wrote about. For instance, I have not described my rapture at sitting in the Sydney Opera House listening to Rigoletto; rather I concentrated on getting very lost on a beach near Manly. Why? Not because one incident is more or less important than the other, but because it is easy to find images - and youtube snippets - from the Sydney Opera House, and not many of a middle aged woman stuck on a beach with the tide coming in and common sense disappearing over the horizon with its backside on fire.
Every writer makes choices - for the sake of story. And yes, these choices may shape memoir in such a way that the humdrum is drowned and every day is presented as drama. Truth it may be, but can never be the whole truth. Or can it - do you know of any other memoir writers wrestled with this?